Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Serendipity Strikes

I know I said I wouldn't be posting, but I just had to share this little, and totally amazing thing.

I've been researching this dissertation for years, too many years, and a couple of years ago I decided to drop Helen Morgan from the study, because I decided she wasn't necessary.  Ha!  Foolish woman!  I think what I actually meant was that she was too hard!

Okay, having left all the information about Helen in Australia (possibly in the bin) I have recently discovered that she is particularly relevant.  Damnation!  I'm praying that Michelle has the bits of paper but......

Anyway, I decided I needed a wee bit of a break from the gorgeous Mary Martin and to write that couple of thousand words I'd been avoiding on Helen.  I'm sure it couldn't be too hard.  Sure.  Now I remember why she was hard - all the sources are contradictory when it comes to her actual birthdate and place.  Now, it's not particularly relevant to the thesis, but, you know me, I have to have the right information.  I started writing about how everyone disagrees (and makes snide remarks about each other) and how she lied about her age to all sorts of people (customs, the census, her husband) and got bogged down.  It was too much! Who cares?  Certainly not anyone reading my dissertation. Anyway, more searching found me staring at the Wikipedia page that had, what looked lik,e a huge amount of very specific information.

Grrrr, it had to come from somewhere!  I'd found the 1910 census which had her listed with her mother and (I thought) father and worked out that she was probably born two years later than most of the sources said and only one year earlier than on her death certificate.  But goodness gracious it was irritating.  So I headed into Ancestry.com once more and started putting in every possible name I could.  Bingo!!!  Some amazing person had found the evidence of her mother's multiple marriages and put them in to Ancestry.com within the last 12 months or so. Now I know that she was the daughter of her mother's first husband and took the name of her mother's third husband!  Hooray!!  If I hadn't found it too hard a couple of years ago,  hadn't decided to leave her out,  hadn't decided she had to go back in, and hadn't moved to Oman and made whatever information I had (lots and lots) inaccessible I would never have known.

It may sound silly and it may sound like an interesting form of procrastination, but I just couldn't let it go without actually knowing!  Anyway, I've emailed the people involved and hopefully they will share with me the story behind finding the certificates.

The beautiful Helen Morgan. 
 Torch singer, Broadway star, movie star, speakeasy co-owner and friend of the occasional gangster. 
Born 1902, died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1941 aged only 39.

Helen was the original Julie in Show Boat and also starred in the 1936 remake which included many of the original stage cast.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5WEQ8j1Me0&t=30s

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