“Banquet” Talks & Keynote Addresses
Ancestors as Heroes Joseph Campbell, the “father of myth” and folklore expert, stated that heroes are those who know what their goals are and then proceed to attain them. Given that definition, surely our immigrant ancestors qualify as heroes: they knew they wanted to settle in the new country and proceeded to cross the ocean to do exactly that. This talk celebrates that heroic experience with the objective of gaining a new appreciation for those who settled this country and made a new life for their descendants. Before the Victrola: Songs Your Ancestors Sang Singing around the piano was not reserved for Norman Rockwell paintings, this was the activity many of our ancestors engaged in when gathered for a social event. Besides being a social activity, it was a behavior that created an atmosphere in the home and served to teach manners and other principles to the children. Whether songs about animals, an easier life, religious beliefs, or philosophies; the hymns, love songs, fun songs, lullabies, and ballads were communication and entertainment. Sing some of the songs that your ancestors sang and get a sense of their lives from this program. “Come Away with Me:” Time Travel Set to Music A musical look at events that shaped America and the newly arrived immigrants. This presentation touches on some key moments in United States history that affected both the current residents and their future generations (us). Songs of Colonial times, the Civil War, Prohibition, Westward Migration, etc., along with songs about various phenomena that shaped the future for everyone, including the building of railroads, working in the mines, settling new areas, etc., create a musical picture of what our ancestors endured and enjoyed. A program suitable for all ages. Doing Family History to Heal Family Present on Behalf of Family Future We love our dead! But would we have loved them as much if we had known them? What behaviors, cultural norms, occupations, health conditions, and more affected our ancestors, their treatment of others, and their lifestyles? Did those become encumbrances into future generations? Here we look at how these elements (primarily negative) from the past become part of the present and may continue to be passed along as a legacy. Learning about our ancestors can help heal relationships in our lives today. This presentation promises an uplifting approach to the healing of relationships. Everything I Need to Know about Genealogy I Learned from Doing Jigsaw Puzzles The family history puzzle and the jigsaw puzzle have a lot in common. Both require concentration, attention to details, staying alert, and more. For a humorous view of 14 ways in which these two pastimes are similar, this program promises to deliver. Graveyard Gumshoe: Lessons EnGRAVEn in Stone After a lifetime of visiting cemeteries, I have had more unusual and even funny experiences than fearful events, as the ghost stories would have us believe are commonplace. This light-hearted look at about 50 years of wandering among tombstones will provide some general tips and hopefully inspire others to investigate their ancestors’ final resting places. A Mile to the Mailbox: How Children Learn their Family History Children learn about their family history in a number of ways, but much of it is within the control of the older generations. This light-hearted look at storytelling focuses on some of the parent- and grandparent-child discussions that take place while doing common, everyday tasks together. THIS TALK REQUIRES AT LEAST A MONTH’S NOTICE TO TAILOR IT TO THE TIME AND AUDIENCE. On the Contrary, Dead Men (and Women) DO Tell Tales! The old adage, “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” is proven wrong in this presentation, designed to make folks smile. While getting information from living sources is always encouraged, most of us know that the data we’re given may be flawed by personal prejudice, embarrassment, a desire to look good, or poor memory. Examples will include the original tales, as shared by ancestors long gone, and the truth that solid research has uncovered. The humor comes in the comparisons of legend to reality, along with some speculation as to why the truth was not included in the original tales. As time allows, audience members may be encouraged to share some of their similar examples. One Step Beyond: Synchronistic Findings in Family Research There is often a serendipitous quality to doing family history exploration: the book that falls to the floor and opens to the exact page you need; the photo that arrives from a relative that was exactly what you were missing; the record that was long sought but never found, yet turns up in your own attic; the search of the cemetery, where everyone said no stone could be located, and you end up twisting your ankle on it; etc. Some of these types of accounts will be shared here, not all of which come from the presenter’s own experience. Many will surely identify with the sense that there is an unseen hand involved in genealogical research. THIS TALK REQUIRES AT LEAST A MONTH’S NOTICE TO TAILOR IT TO THE TIME AND AUDIENCE. Remembering Homemade Music Once upon a time, when people wanted music, they made it themselves. Society, in general, has moved away from the practice of gatherings around the piano or with banjos and guitars around the campfire. This program reminds the audience of how their ancestors engaged in these activities and possibly touches on some memories of their own music-making experiences, allowing for some singing along in the longer versions of this program (presentaiton length varies according to the needs of the organization). Suitable for all ages. Remembering the Past for the Future: Listening to Grandpas instead of iPods Grandpas (and grandmas) have been replaced by electronic entertainment. When the grandchildren visit, they are often plugged into iPods or X-boxes. What happened to the days of telling grandchildren stories or giving advice? Would they even listen? Ideas of how to help reconnect the generations, along with examples of the value of keeping these connections alive, long after the grandparents are gone, mix to provide an entertaining and heart-connecting presentation. This program also uses some of the research findings of my dissertation project. Sherlock Homes: Investigating Your Ancestor’s House Frequently there are family history treasures to be found within the houses of our ancestors. Who built the house? Who lived in the house? Where was the house located in relation your ancestor’s business and other buildings in the town your ancestor called home? This program takes a look at investigating ancestors by researching their dwellings and promises to provide a few laughs as well. What are the Odds? Genealogy Oddities Two people, same birth year, same name, same county . . . what are the odds? Are they related? How can you tell? These and some other unusual and perplexing findings from working on Genealogy Roadshow are shared (with confidentiality maintained, of course) to emphasize the need to research just a bit more, and then a bit more still. Some laughs promised. You are NOT Alone: The Quest for Family History Transcends the Grave Many respected genealogists keep secret their personal beliefs about “help from beyond.” Are their hidden “hands and hearts” guiding your research efforts? Are you getting “a feeling” that something is true, even if hard evidence doesn’t prove it? Do you believe in ghosts? This can be presented in a standard lecture format or as a discussion, designed to share experiences, compare evidence against “feelings,” and let it travel as the participants desire.