Monday, September 22, 2014

Think about what image represents your ancestor


I'll be honest...this is a little of a rant. If you aren't into genealogy, I understand if you come back later. I've been working on my Ancestry trees, slowly working my way through all of the hints and records that it suggests. Yes, I have issues with hints but those are for another day.

What's getting me ticked off is the number of these (above) sort of graphics being included with every ancestor in a tree that is before the age of photography. I am comfortable with my ancestors. They may be represented peacefully with a silhouette until I happen to see an image that has a relationship with them, such as a burial site, their house, or perhaps a relic of their time in a particular area, like a maple tree from their property, or an example of their masonry or silversmithing.

Why is everyone so obsessed with putting a photo in that silhouette that they use canned clip art to show that its "their" ancestor because there's a flag or a ship? Does that have any connection to their life? Just because they immigrated, should their entire image be represented by their passage? Didn't they do something else with their life?

And if you are going to do something like this and thinking about actually making a connection to your ancestor, why not research the CORRECT flag to put into the tree? For example:
United Kingdom flag of Briton today
This flag is the flag of England AFTER 1801 (above). Before 1801, the flag looked like this (below):
Union Flag 1606-1801: combination of English and Scottish National flags
Prior to 1606 ( when James I took the throne), however, England had an even simpler flag (below):
English National flag during the reign of Queen Elizabeth: red cross on a white background

So if your ancestor immigrated the US in the 1770s, then the middle flag is correct. Not the top one, nor the bottom one. The ancestor would have had no connection to either the top or the bottom flag, which makes your graphic meaningless.

Similarly, if your ancestor came from Cologne to the US in 1774, this should be the flag:

NOT this one:

This flag was adopted after that period and so therefore, it doesn't make any sense to have your ancestor tied to a graphic that didn't exist in their time period.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, its okay to NOT have a picture of an ancestor. And if you are going to do it, at least take the time to think about the image and its context, and make sure that you get the right graphic that actually has a connection to your ancestor.

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