Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Ethnic and cultural genealogy conference - Keynote address

On August 6 and 7 Library and Archives Canada is the venue for a conference of the Genealogy and Local History (GENLOC) and the Reference and Information Services (RISS) sections of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

The conference is to "explore aspects of genealogical research relating to specific ethnic and cultural communities, such as African-American, First Nations, French-Canadian, Caribbean, Chinese and Continental European." That's everything but the Anglo-Celtic Connection. I'm attending anyway, and aim to blog about some of the presentations I find interesting.

The opening, keynote, speaker was Susan Tucker, Curator of Books and Records at the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.

Since 2003, she has explored aspects of the histories of women, genealogy, archives and memory and the places where these intersect. During the past two years, Susan Tucker has worked alongside various types of memory keepers in an ethnographic study of the transmission of genealogical information.

Her presentation focused on a case study from the Louisiana Acadians, Cajuns, community layering information from a family genealogist working with public records and family historical sources in a variety of forms. She stressed the importance of migration events, which for this extended family saw some members arriving in Louisiana via stays in Haiti and Jamaica, and others who moved directly from Acadian to Louisiana. The sisters were reunited by chance in 1804, the reunion becoming a key event in the family history.

The presentation was illustrated with original art depicting events and people from the family history, and integrating local history sources such as Longfellow's poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, and a statue of Evangeline erected in Louisiana in 1929.

The study was used to illustrate the boundaries of public and private memories and the roles records and various pieces of family art and artifacts play in society.

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