Family and World History – Irish Men On The Move — The North Star Reports – by Kirsten Olsen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
[photo: My ancestor, Dennis E. Mitchell, who was present when President Lincoln was shot.]
Through my research I found connections not only to Ireland, the place to which I could trace my ancestors, but also to places all around the world. Because humans have a tendency to move we are not from just one place in the world but from many. I also found historical connections that put my family in the same time and place of one major historical event.
Researching my family history made me realize that my ancestors followed in the footsteps of most other humans throughout history. Humans have a tendency to move for different reasons, such as to pursue better opportunities or a better life or to escape hardships. I have come to the conclusion that my family moved for these reasons. The oldest ancestor I found left Ireland for the New World during a period of widespread hardship. With more research I found that other members of my family also chose to move quite a bit. One member of my family actually moved six times in his life, I believe to find a good job. Whatever the reason may be for humans to leave, they move for some reason.
When I say that I’m Irish, what I’m really saying is that the farthest back that I found my own family history recorded goes back to Ireland, but the big mysteries are the things that aren’t documented. If humans have been moving for millions of years, how could I say that my ancestors are only from Ireland?
I learned that we might take pride in where we are from but we should also realize that we are all in a way “mutts.” So little things like people saying the only ones who can celebrate St. Patrick’s day are the Irish is actually quite foolish because we could all be Irish in some way, you never know.
Another thing that I learned from being in class was that big historical events in history can be noticed for one specific person but we never account for the people who are behind the scenes helping out or contributing to the event at hand. In my family history I found out that one of my ancestors was at the exact time and place of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and was on duty helping to protect his country. My family takes pride in this claim to fame, connecting our family to a major historical event. But nobody ever talks about the people who are involved in these historical events; we just learn about the famous people that were involved in the event. Having done my research and found a recurring theme, I now have a better understanding about who my family is and where I fit in the world and in society. [Professor Liang’s 2014 World History II class.]
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.
We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu