Thursday, October 23, 2014

From Little Acorns Grow

You've heard the expression before - like many ideas, it has been with us for a while:

"as an ook cometh of a litel spyr" [a spyr, or spire, is a sapling]
-Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, 1374
"The greatest Oaks have been little Acorns."
-Thomas Fuller's Gnomologia, 1732
"Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow."
-D. Everett in The Columbian Orator, 1797
  (citations courtesy of The Phrase Finder)

As I started mapping out the mighty oak that would become my family tree, I kept thinking about that phrase in all its variations. I've never been a subscriber to the Great Man theory of history, and I quickly learned that even a so called Great Man has to come from somewhere. Or, to switch metaphors, even a great individual is just a larger pebble in a stream - it's the stream that matters in the long run.

My first attempt at bringing my family history out of my personal notes and files and onto a more collaborative platform was a blog - almost identical to this one - which was only viewable to a select, invited group of contributing cousins. We had looked each other up in that tentative way that distant cousins who have never met tend to do, and for a brief while, we corresponded through blog posts and comments on the "Mighty Acorns" blog - named for all of the ordinary people we knew and loved in our family tree.

While we meant well, life happens, and the original Mighty Acorns sits unattended, now - its last post dated in 2009. I ran across it the other day while tinkering with my other blog, and it seemed to me that there was a lot more in there than I had remembered.  A few more pictures; a few more essays; some old Civil War poetry, and a lot more comments!

I was inspired to start it up again - but this time around, I don't want to hide my light under a bushel. I won't share what other people have shared with me without their permission, but I have a lot to say about my own research, questions, discoveries, and mysteries - and I've learned not to wait around for others (or make them wait around for me) before I go forth and do great things.

And so, like an evolving tree in a forest full of stiff competition, I'm forging ahead with Mightier Acorns. I plan to re-post some of my older essays, create some new family portraits, and maybe talk about how I do what I do in a technical sense. I already have a few ideas - historical book reviews, research techniques and technology tips, etc. - and I aim to put out something new each week. (I am including re-posts from the original Mighty Acorns blog in my definition of "new".) For now, I only plan to post my own notes and pictures - and we'll just have to see what happens.

If you're one of my previously mentioned cousins, and you're okay having me re-share any of your Mighty Acorns posts here, I'm happy to do so, but I won't post anything without your say-so. Just drop me a private note.

If we've never met (either virtually or physically) and you think we might be related, definitely drop me a private note! You never know what you can learn about the tree from other branches. Hopefully, together, we can make history together!

"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history that we make today." (Chicago Tribune, 1916).

"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do."

      - both quotes from Henry Ford

You can contact me at: callintad at gmail dot com

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