A 4-H Genealogy Event Unveils the Truth

Courtesy of ROI-NJ

You learn a lot when you attend a genealogy event but I had no idea that I was going to learn something that changed my understanding of a situation that personally happened to me in childhood.

Recently I served as a Summer Judge Assistant for our local 4-H organization in the Genealogy category. I was in both Girl Scouts and 4-H in my youth but in neither organization did I participate in any genealogy badges or projects.

My parents were divorced so my mom was my Assistant Girl Scout Leader for my Brownie Troop 345 and my step-mother was a 4-H Leader.

In 4-H, I participated in the sewing category at the Porter County, Indiana Fair in the mid-1960s. I can’t recall exactly what the item was; I think I sewed an apron but that might be wrong. What I strongly recall is that I received a Blue Ribbon.

Over the years the item I sewed and the ribbon has been lost but I remember receiving the ribbon. I was proud of earning that award.

Imagine my surprise when I just discovered that EVERYONE who enters a project on time receives a blue ribbon. Um, this seriously burst my bubble! My family thinks this is hysterical.

Now I’m not even sure that my item was entered at the Fair, which I didn’t attend. The ribbons are awarded by a judge at a pre-fair event, which is what I assisted with. My now local Fair is not until September. The items will then be brought back for the Fair display. I now suspect that I didn’t have visitation on the day that the item was to be judged so my step-mother must have just submitted it on my behalf. Since I never spoke with a judge it didn’t go to the Fair. Sigh. At 9 years old I would have had no understanding of the rules or the ability to get myself to the judging event alone.

This brings up something we must all think about. When we are recording our memories, even those we personally experienced and didn’t just hear about, we must keep in mind that we didn’t have the full understanding of the situation as a child. When looking through an adult perspective the events are colored. Compound that with remoteness to the event and like me, not really remembering what I sewed, the event becomes less historically accurate.

Think of how that impacts the oral history that has been passed down to you. Yes, there is truth in it but it is likely not the whole truth.

Thanks, 4-H for the reminder of this hard truth.