Happy New Year! This week’s roundup of blog posts and news stories covers a wide variety of topics. From two-hundred-year-old gossip to word origins to the award-winning Legal Genealogist, we are starting off the year with some interesting topics.
We start off this week with a post in the Abroad in the Yard blog that I learned about from Elizabeth Shown Mills. An antique desk recently sold at auction was crafted by John Shearer for “an honest Dutchman of the name of Philip Stover in Frederick County, Maryland.” It revealed an interesting note that in addition to praising Stover, had quite disparaging things to say about John Mitchell and Sarah Skags. As Elizabeth pointed out, this reinforces the concept of a “reasonably exhaustive search.” One would not need to have “check furniture built in the time period and place my ancestor lived for hidden letters” on your list of things to search for. But one needs to be open to the possibility that new evidence could turn up at any time. Read more about the desk in Scandalous Gossip Found Hidden in 1808 Desk.
Wednesday’s New York Times had a great story about another hidden resource. An archivist intern at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Manhattan discovered a twelve-page document misfiled with some bills from a colonial-era doctor. The bills were supposed to be discarded in the 1970s. Fortunately, they were not. The misfiled document turned out to be the draft of a letter concerning the problems between Britain and America. It was written in 1775 by Robert R. Livingston who would be engaged by the Continental Congress the following year to be one of the authors of a document we now know as the Declaration of Independence. Read more in Letter Tied to Fight for Independence Found in Museum Attic.
I missed this story that came out this summer on sott.net about Irish DNA studies. Although the Irish are known as a Celtic race, apparently the reality is a bit more complex. Apparently, although having many common origins with the British peoples, the Irish appear to be more closely linked with the Basque area of Spain instead of the Celts. Read more about this story in DNA Shows Irish People Have More Complex Origins Than Previously Thought.
A few weeks ago the Business Insider ran an interesting story about etymology. A reddit user posted a series of maps showing the etymology of certain words. The maps show Europe and parts of northern Asia and northern Africa. The map for the word “orange,” for example, shows that in western Europe it comes directly from Sanskrit. Eastern Europe, on the other hand, derives it from a word meaning “apple from China.” Northern Europe, southwestern Europe, and the Middle-East, however, derive their words for orange from the fact that it was introduced to those areas by the Portuguese. Check them all out in These Fascinating Maps Show the Origin of Words We Use All the Time.
Finally we close out this week with Judy G. Russell, the Legal Genealogist. Congratulations are in order for our favorite lawyer/genealogist/blogger. Back in November, Judy received a message from the American Bar Association Journal that her blog had been chosen as one of the top 100 law blogs by the editors of that prestigious journal. These top 100 were put out to a vote to see which would be the top blog in each category. After 4,000 votes were tallied, The Legal Genealogist won in the niche blog category! Congratulations to Judy on this well-deserved win. Her posts are always topical, interesting and make legal subjects easily understandable to everyone. No one deserved this honor more. You can read about it in It’s a Win!