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And you thought that over-sharing was a product of the digital age!

And you thought that over-sharing was a product of the digital age!

Facebook. The place where people go to inform everyone they’ve ever met (and some they haven’t!) of their every move. And it’s also where snarky e-cards like the one above are concieved.

BUT! Good (?) news, technological-culture-defenders and fellow genealogists! This is not an just an internet phenomenon! It is human nature, not just netizen nature.

You see, back in the pre-internet days (the horror!) there were these big, messy things called “newspapers,” and in them, people got to sit and read everyone else’s business over their morning cup of coffee. Just like we do today with Facebook, except without the ink-stained fingers*, paper-cuts, or actually spending any money for our knowledge and entertainment!

I got oh-so familiar with this aspect of human noseyness (and shareyness) yesterday while searching through the Marion County, TN’s rootsweb page for obituaries (as mentioned in yesterday’s post.) And, wow. Could you imagine city papers these days saying things like:

Ed Hicks and McKinley Newsom said they did not aim to comb their beards or shave any-more for 7 months. What’s the matter, boys.


We were sorry that Kelly Hartman and family moved to St. Elmo for we liked them, as they were good neighbors.

Or simply,

Mrs. Addie Richey called on her mother, Mrs. I. Newsom, Sunday.

No way. But they are sure read like facebook statuses!

Now, for genealogists, this archive of a family’s every status update is a gold mine (the last quote above was how I found Addie’s married name!), but all I can think of is all the curmudgeons who make ecards like the one above, and how they’d bust a blood vessel reading over these things. But hey, some of us DO want to know who moseyed on over to the other side of the river that week! Or went to church! Or has a cold!

…. just kidding.

Or maybe some of us do. But it’s not me.

Well it kinda is, if it was already compiled for me to read in 7 seconds, but 221 pages is a lot of 97+ year old status updates to comb through. And take notes on. And analyze for usefulness or interestingness. Of course I’m hoping that when I look over all the bits and pieces it will all be useful in a narrative write-up, but for now, I’m just picking over a thousand million trillion gabillion (I counted) clippings and giggling over what some people felt was newspaper-worthy updates back in the day!


If you want to see Miss Mae Newsom smile, ask her about that bracelet.

 (Distant ancestor had bracelet, it made her happy. Check. I’m not sure if I should I feel silly that I am filling overnote pages with little clips like this, or proud of myself for being THE MOST THOROUGH RESEARCHER EVER.** Tell me it’s the latter so I feel good about myself, okay?)

* That’s why rich folk’s butlers used to iron the newspapers for them, so the heat would set the ink and no fingers would get stained. Isn’t that interesting? (Yes.)
** Okay, well. Someday!