Friday, May 12, 2017
Defining ORNERY PEOPLE
I have a little Melville work to do still, but this is getting closer.
Current project: Ornery People: Who the Depression Okies Were. I have been doing research for this book for more than a decade but now have decided on a form for the documents and am far along with it. Taking myself as representative Oklahoman from what had recently been Indian Territory (much of the eastern part of the state), one who through migration and impoverishment had lost almost all family and historical memory, I have compiled in chronological order, starting in the 1600s, vivid, detailed glimpses of my American ancestors whom I had thought, prior to 2002, would have left almost no written record. As it turns out, not one of my white ancestors came to the United States (they only came to colonies) and neither of my parents was born in a state (both were born in territories). As of May 2017 I have more than 600 half-page or page-long glimpses of people at revealing moments of their lives and of American history, usually with some of their own words found in a great array of sources such as wills, Revolutionary pension applications, affidavits with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and WPA interviews. This will be a unique genealogical book because I bring to it all I have learned about historical research in a scholarly career spanning more than half a century. The idea behind it is that anyone whose family had been in eastern Oklahoma since the mid-19th century can now, starting with the Internet, retrieve lost family memories in the context of successive episodes of American history.