Links, 10.11.10

Today, as you probably know, is Columbus Day. But you may not know that it is also author Elmore Leonard‘s 85th birthday. Plus, I was amused to learn that it is the launch of “winter coat season“, at least according to stylists who say buying a new winter coat annually is a must, lest one’s look become tired. (They don’t say what to do when your wallet becomes tired, though. )

More important, if you’ve planned a long-weekend getaway to a city that houses a National Archives repository and were thinking of stopping by, don’t forget they’re closed today, along with many other libraries and archives — check before you go!

Italian ancestry: October is Italian-American Heritage Month, and if it turns your attention toward exploring Italian roots, here’s a nice collection of articles from the Family Tree Magazine archives. (Some of them are Plus Edition; full text available to subscribers only.)

Disastrous knowledge: At JewishGen Blog, Ann Rabinowitz writes about famines and famine relief in Part Four of an interesting series on disasters and their bearing on genealogy.

Internet doubts: In the Victoria (TX) Advocate, columnist Martha Jones considers what is lost and what is gained in the age of quick online database access to census records. Her point: Convenience is gained; context may be lost.  “I have come to realize that even though researching census records through microfilm reels took hours and hours, as a genealogist, I could begin to find the ‘flavor of the community’ in those pages of yore.”

Internet togetherness: Across the continent from Jones, Montreal writer Danielle Murray takes a more benign view of the Internet age, focusing on its ability to reconnect distant relatives. She contrasts her fascination with people-finding to the traditional genealogy practiced by her Uncle Milt: “Uncle Milt was a true genealogist — he went backward. I, on the other hand, have searched sideways. He hunted the dead; I’ve gone after the living. I don’t know if there’s a name for that.”

Read it forward: I love this post at Roots and Rambles on “reading history forward“; it explores the contrast between experiencing historic events in real time and recounting them decades after the fact in a history book, and considers what that means as we piece together family history.

Have a great week — and a great holiday, if you’re lucky enough to get today off!