Focus on History: February 2020 Genealogy Blog Party

Elizabeth O’Neal’s February 2020 Genealogy Blog Party theme is FOCUSed on HISTORY. If you follow her posts, you will recognize FOCUS as her One Word Challenge for 2020.

History education is an important component in understanding the whys and hows of our ancestors’ lives and we are lucky to live in the 21st century where access to genealogy education is easily available.

Since February is a little bit of this and a little bit of that in terms of history, I decided this post would follow the same meandering path and hopefully offer everyone something of interest to extend their knowledge of American history.

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  1. “Railroad Ties,” a 23 minute documentary shown at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on YouTube (free if you have Amazon Prime) that brings together six descendants of fugitive slaves and abolitionists. It’s a very moving story and even the participants don’t know why they’ve been chosen until they each read personalized letters.
  2. Dividing the Land: Early American Beginnings of Our Private Property Mosaic by Edward T. Price, The University of Chicago Geography Research paper No. 238, published 1994. This book is like a mini-encyclopedia on the power that land ownership had on our ancestors and the methods used to distribute and sell land in New England, the South Atlantic, the Middle Atlantic and the Louisiana-Texas regions of America.
  3. Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Four webinars in the Legacy Family Tree collection will be available for free viewing (one week for each webinar) as part of the celebration of Black History Month 2020.
  4. NARA Record Group Explorer – The National Archives has a free search page to over 500 Record Groups. The colored boxes indicate the percentage of the collection that has been digitized and is available online.(The percentage is also provided in the bottom right corner of each record group box. Among the free images are military pension records from the American Revolution and Civil War. Images are by Fold3, but can be viewed and saved for free on NARA’s website.
  5. Story Telling Tools & Finding Photos/Images – This link goes to a research toolbox page on my own blog with resources to organize and share the history of your ancestors – or your own – and where to find historical images.

Lastly, because I am a trivia buff and Presidents’ Day is in February, here is some presidential trivia:

  1. Who was the first president born outside the original 13 colonies?
  2. Who is the only president in the Wrestling Hall of Fame?
  3. Who is the only president whose native language was not English?
  4. Who is the only president buried in Washington, DC?
  5. Who was the first president to have his inauguration broadcast on the radio?
  6. Who is the first divorced man to become president?
  7. Who is the only man to serve as a U.S. Senator after serving as U.S. President?
  8. Who is the only man to serve as both U.S. president and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
  9. What is the only foreign country that George Washington ever visited?
  10. Who was the first president to visit a foreign land while in office?


1. Abraham Lincoln, Kentucky
2. Abraham Lincoln!
3. Martin Van Buren, first language was German
4. Woodrow Wilson
5. Calvin Coolidge
6. Ronald Reagan
7. Andrew Johnson
8. William Howard Taft
9. Barbados
10. Theodore Roosevelt – went to Panama to inspect the canal construction

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