Saturday, April 6, 2013

Speaker Profile-J. H. Fonkert, CG

I am fascinated by the movement of our ancestors through time and space. If you share my fascination, I think you will enjoy my talk, "Historical Geography for Genealogists," Friday,
9:30 a.m., F316.

Historical geography deals with the changing character of places and regions through time. Physical geography (terrain, water, and climate) created opportunities and barriers, and our ancestors, through their industry and commerce, created new places.

Historical geography will help you understand migration and how your family's role in the unfolding story of America. You will be a more appreciative and efficient family historian when you learn about five forces that influenced the westward advance of settlement. We will explore:
  • Landforms and topography.
  • Climate
  • Technology
  • Land policy
  • Economic cycles
We will talk about nine incipient "nations" (based on Colin Woodward, American Nations: a History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America) that will help you understand your ancestors' migration paths-the aboriginal First Nation, El Norte, New France, New Netherland, Yankeedom, Tidewater, The Midlands, The Deep South, and Greater Appalachia.

Maps and family migration snapshots will illustrate how these distinctive cultures spread across the continent.. With emphasis on the Midwest and West, we will see how urban networks and agricultural regions emerged in the last half of the nineteenth century, and ponder how these developments affected our ancestors' migrations.

If you want some pre-conference mental exercise, I suggest The Shaping of America: Transcontinental America, 1850-1915, by Donald Meinig.


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