The SAR Magazine

Spring 2018

The SAR MAGAZINE is the official quarterly publication of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution published quarterly.

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Page 9 of 47

By T. Joseph Hardesty, MLS, PLCGS Library Director, National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution W e all know that America has its roots in the early 17th century with the colonization of the New World. Treacherous sea voyages had to be endured, and once on shore, building adequate shelter, planting a harvest and hunting wild game were the primary concerns for new arrivals. In short order, though, early Colonists were thinking of how best to fulfill contractual agreements with sponsors and business partners back home in England. As towns and villages became more established, the need to form governing committees became necessary, as did constructing houses of worship. The seeds of state-sponsored religion were being sown, and the Puritans were good at it. The 18th century witnessed our nation's "birth pains" with the formation of colony-wide governments, complete with charters, legislation and taxation. The development of new political ideologies and statutes regarding trade, commerce and expression of religion ultimately led to a violent clash with Great Britain in 1776. A new nation was born. With growing pains, the 19th century brought about a maturing of federal, state and local governments. It was like turning on a neon sign that announced to the rest of the world, "We're Open For Business!" Populations up and down the East Coast exploded with the arrival of immigrants filled with hope for a better life, and many long-established families answered the "push and pull" invitation to migrate westward into lands never before populated by peoples of European descent. Abundant fertile land was available for the taking, often free to those with land warrants for military service. Interstate commerce in raw goods like cotton, sugar and tobacco was booming. The enslaved inhabitants of this new world produced much of these goods and were likewise traded and sold. Churches of all denominations were founded, and young people were anxious to marry and have big families. The "American Dream" and glorious freedom were a reality for many, but just as there was life, there also was death due to terrible wars and diseases. Life was certainly not easy for everyone. In post-Civil War America, one Irish immigrant aptly stated, "In America we found three things to be true … the streets in our town were not paved with gold. In fact many streets were not paved at all—and we were expected to pave them." Nevertheless, America as a whole was fast becoming the envy of the world. To our great fortune, much of the activity thus described is documented in records rich in genealogical value. Great tests of our nation's values and strengths continued in the 20th century. America had, by then, become a global power capable of fighting and surviving two world wars. Federal and state statutes and regulations (the Clean Water Act, for example) were enacted for the benefit of all. If these laws are found to be repressive, we have the right, guaranteed by the Constitution, to repeal them. With the benefits of rural electrification, millions of Americans found, for the first time, the energy to pursue more education, improved health care and even leisure activities. Housing was more affordable, harvests were larger than ever before, and mining production was staggering. No wonder America was victorious in 1945! For family history researchers around the world, the history of America in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries translates into an astounding genealogical record. Most beginning genealogists understand the value of the U.S. Census and vital records as well as probate records, obituraries and property deeds, but legislation also creates many other records of value (e.g., guardianship registers and tax lists, to name a few). As the director for the SAR Library, my primary function is to help you locate and interpret these records. Locating the records is fun and exciting, to be sure, but it's when we interpret these records in their historical context that we begin to see our ancestors in the story of human events. Your family history and my family history, when woven together, become our American heritage. In the course of your research, you may learn that your ancestors may not have served in the Continental Army or the Colonial militia during the War for Independence, but you can be sure that they heard the fighting taking place in the woods near their cabin! It would also be fitting to ask God's blessing on our female ancestors. I was moved to hear recently of the courage of one woman whose husband was killed in 1944 at Utah Beach, yet she continued to work at the local bomber plant. What great sacrifices our American male and female ancestors made—and continue to make to this day. Our parents and grandparents fought and sometimes died to win our freedoms to speak and assemble freely, to worship as we choose and to exercise the right to vote our individual conscience. How good to be an American! As director of the SAR Library, it is my humble privilege to make the genealogical record of our American heritage available to family history researchers like you. This is what I do with a passion each and every day. I invite you to come visit the SAR Library. With more than 30,000 published family genealogies, state and county histories from all 50 states and access to premium online resources, you are bound to uncover that elusive ancestor. We're located on historic Museum Row at 809 West Main Street, Louisville. With hotels and restaurants nearby, why not bring a bus full of cousins with you? Research groups are welcome—just call (502) 588- 6129 to schedule a large group visit. Want to learn more? Visit us online at: sar-genealogical-research-library. 10 SAR MAGAZINE America's Heritage and the SAR Library: A Compelling Combination

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