Genealogy, Health, and the Native Hawai’ians

I want to talk to you about “Search­ing for Emma.” It was one of the most affect­ing of a group of poignant films pre­sent­ed at “A Cel­e­bra­tion of Fam­i­ly His­to­ry” on 29 April pre­sent­ed by Fam­il­y­Search at the LDS Con­fer­ence Cen­ter in hon­or of the 2010 Nation­al Genealog­i­cal Soci­ety con­fer­ence.

The film depicts the sto­ry of Emma Lyons Waimau, exiled at the age of 24 to Kalau­pa­pa, what was then called the colony for lep­ers (per­sons with Hansen’s Dis­ease) on the island of Moloka’i. There, she met and mar­ried her hus­band and bore six chil­dren none of whom she would be able to keep, accord­ing to the laws of the day.

Fam­i­ly his­to­ry is sim­ply the sto­ry of lives as they are lived, with hap­pi­ness and tragedy deliv­ered as they will be, with­out a sched­ule or agen­da. What moves is how peo­ple react to the lives they live.

The dev­as­ta­tion of the Hawai’ian peo­ple, the stigma­ti­za­tion of peo­ple with a dis­ease, and the whole his­to­ry of health care, inform this sto­ry of Emma Lyons Waimau and infuse it with mean­ing. Each aspect of the nar­ra­tive adds the weight of his­to­ry to a tale that might oth­er­wise be sim­ply a per­son­al one of a woman curi­ous to know about her great grand­moth­er’s strug­gles.

“Search­ing for Emma” (Adobe Flash-based video)

Decompressing from NGS 2010, Salt Lake City

I arrived home yes­ter­day after­noon from the Nation­al Genealog­i­cal Soci­ety’s annu­al con­fer­ence, held this year in Salt Lake City. I’m still decom­press­ing from a great week of pre­sen­ta­tions, speech­es, singing from the Mor­mon Taber­na­cle Choir, and research. I do not this one post will encom­pass all that I have to say about the event, so here’s the first of a cou­ple of posts on the Con­fer­ence.

This year there were sev­er­al items of note:

  • Jay L. Verkler, Pres­i­dent of Fam­il­y­Search (which includes the Fam­i­ly His­to­ry Library in Salt Lake City, the over 4,600 Fam­i­ly His­to­ry Cen­ters in more than 80 coun­tries, and the web­site) gave the Wednes­day morn­ing keynote address, which includ­ed:
    • A pre­sen­ta­tion of “From the Gran­ite Moun­tain to the Ends of the World,” a video vir­tu­al tour through the LDS Gran­ite Moun­tain Records Vault, where the mas­ter copies of the Church’s 2.4 mil­lion micro­film reels are stored.

      I expect this video, enti­tled  will soon be post­ed to where the oth­er LDS pre­sen­ta­tions from the Con­fer­ence have been post­ed. The pre­sen­ta­tion is list­ed there, but does not have an active link yet.

      Update: The film is up on their web­site. See the entry “Gran­ite Moun­tain Records Vault: The Video.”

    • An announce­ment that the Fam­il­y­Search web­site has post­ed 300 mil­lion new names in indexed genealog­i­cal records.
    • An announce­ment that dig­i­tiz­ing the Church’s micro­film (once esti­mat­ed to take 178 years) will instead be com­plet­ed in … 10 years, due to tech­no­log­i­cal improvements.Indexing will take addi­tion­al time, but the fact that all the imag­ing will be done as soon as 2020 means that these records may be acces­si­ble in unin­dexed dig­i­tal for­mat (folks, the films are not indexed either!), and the index­ing could be done via crowd sourc­ing, as the,, and web­sites are already doing.
  • The NGS Con­fer­ence includ­ed a Gen­Tech sec­tion, where genealog­i­cal soft­ware and web­site com­pa­nies demon­strat­ed their prod­ucts. There was an unmanned booth (though some­times there were peo­ple there!) with the pro­posed Genealog­i­cal Data Mod­el (GDM).Here’s one researcher who hopes that the GDM is final­ly dust­ed off and used to cre­ate a true stan­dard for the stor­age, main­te­nance, and shar­ing of genealog­i­cal data that will com­ply with the Genealog­i­cal Proof Stan­dard and the sourc­ing guide­lines of Evi­dence Explained by Eliz­a­beth Shown Mills. This would give us a bet­ter way to share and com­pare genealog­i­cal infor­ma­tion as well as to take it clean­ly from one prod­uct to anoth­er with­out the cur­rent vagaries of GEDCOM.
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