“Learning About Your Ancestor Through Culture and Folkways”
Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG
This course is designed to instruct students about their ancestors’ personal lives – beyond names, dates, and places – even if they did not know their early family members. To do this, students will get new ideas of how to use the tools from genealogy (and other disciplines) to become more familiar with the social history of the previous generations.
Social history includes all the “folkways” (art, music, food, costuming, traditions, etc.) that give us our cultural identity, along with the historical events that touched our ancestors’ lives. The goal: a greater understanding of our ancestors and their jobs, residences, relationships, and more. Perhaps, along the way, the students will also gain a better understanding of their own behaviors, interests, and traditions.
Jean Wilcox Hibben; PhD, MA, CG, has been involved in family research for nearly 40 years. She is a member of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and is on the following Boards: the Genealogical Speakers Guild (current VP), the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (current Western Regional Representative), the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (current VP and past APG board member), and the Corona Genealogical Society (past-president and current 1st VP and webmaster). She maintains her own website with information about her presentations, CDs, projects, etc.: www.circlemending.org. A Board-certified genealogist, Jean is associated with the Corona California Family History Center (former director, current staff trainer); she was the lead researcher for the 2013 Season of the PBS television program Genealogy Roadshow and did research for Follow Your Past, appearing on Travel Channel.
A native of the Chicago suburbs and retired college professor, Jean holds a master’s degree in speech communication and doctorate in folklore. Jean is a national speaker known for her entertaining, as well as informative, presentations and is a frequent writer for various genealogy publications. With Gena Philibert-Ortega, the two form “Genealogy Journeys,” hosting genealogy cruises and a series of podcasts dealing with Social History. Their blog is http://genaandjean.blogspot.com where information on both of these endeavors can be found. Jean sees a connection between family and social history because, in learning about our forebears, we have a chance to piece together the various elements of our ancestors’ lives, creating a complete (or as complete as possible) recognition of who they were in their homes, families, occupations, religions, and activities; in other words, the whole ancestral picture, or circle. Jean’s mission statement: “My goal is to assist others in their efforts to connect generations (past to present), completing the family circle.”
- Session One: “Culture and Folkways: definitions and roles”: What is culture, as it relates to genealogy, and how does one differ from another? How do family myths relate to family history? (The work of Joseph Campbell will help answer this; in particular, those explaining the concepts of immigration and migration). Family legends will also be addressed.
- Session Two: “Using genealogical resources to understand the lives of our ancestors”: How can you learn about an ancestors’ culture, life, community, and interests? This class will focus on how it’s revealed in census records (beyond just the ancestral household), city directories, wills, church and community records, newspapers, and more.
- Session Three: “Folkways and traditions”: How do the folkways of your ancestors define their cultural traditions? The importance of studying the music, art, holiday celebrations, clothing (costuming), games, and food will all be discussed. The provenance of artifacts and ephemera the descendants may possess will also be covered.
- Session Four: “Where they lived, what they did”: Why did my ancestor settle where he did? Why did he work in that job? These and similar questions will be our focus in this last session, using some of the information garnered from earlier sessions.