A Microcosm of the Revolution

Recently I completed a fascinating project for my local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  I researched the ancestors of all our members in an attempt to discover who we were as a chapter during the Revolutionary War.  This was quite different from the usual way of looking at history -- focusing attention on a person or event in the past to glean some insight about it today.   I took the opposite approach, and examined a specific group of people in the present to try to get a sense of who we were in the past.

Of the 59 ancestors I researched, only one lived in our town!
Map credit: David Rumsey Maps
We were born in America, and we were born abroad; we lived in (almost) all the 13 colonies; and we fought in most of the major battles of the Revolution, and many smaller ones, too.  I think the thing that surprised me most was how much the ancestors of the women in my small Connecticut town represented the Revolutionary War as a whole.  

We were a microcosm of the nascent American Republic -- farmers, merchants, politicians, and educators.  Among other things, our ancestors served as soldiers, officers, sailors, gunsmiths, mattrosses, drummers, scouts, and prisoners of war.  Thank heaven so many applied for pensions, because they can be a goldmine of information.  This man provided six pages just like this one, detailing exactly where he was and what he was doing throughout the war:
www.fold3.com -- Pension of Jacob Snell, NY #S23429 (p. 41)
Another man had to submit a page from his family Bible in order to apply for his pension.  Imagine how you'd feel if this was your family!
www.fold3.com -- Pension of David Lockwood, CT #W26223 (p.2)
Much as I would like to link up my presentation here, I can't because it ties in heavily to proprietary DAR data.  But if you join the DAR, I'd be happy to share!  One thing I can talk about, though, are the tools I used to create the presentation.  

The most exciting one is Google Earth.  I love the ability to tell a map-based story, and Google Earth not only allows you to show points on a map, but to adjust the perspective at each point and include data and images.  You can save your data in a .kmz file, and share your story with others.  Even better, Google Earth includes the ability to record your story as you zoom around the globe, but I couldn't make it work in time for my presentation.  All my embedded labels and links were lost whenever I recorded a tour, so I used Power Point instead.  Still, Google Earth has the potential for being a wonderful way to place your ancestors' stories in their physical context -- that is, once I straighten out the problem I'm having with animation! 

Just to give you some idea of what I'm talking about and show you the possibilities, here is a very brief segment on the burning of Fairfield, 7 July 1779  that I recorded using Snagit.  There is no audio with this clip, but would be easy to add.  I will keep playing with Google Earth to see what I can come up with, so stay tuned!