Today’s Tip: Do not forget to capture the culture of the city, area, or region of each of your ancestral branches.
I have been having a lot of fun lately as I have worked to capture the ‘culture’ or the ‘fabric of life’ of some ancestral branches.
There is a lovely plaque in the Bohemian National Hall in Cleveland. It holds a letter to ‘Our Youth of the United States of America’ and it is from the Sokol organization (Special thanks to my cousin who transcribed it for me.) I like the entire letter, but these two paragraphs really captured my attention and my heart:
“Much harder will it be for us to enumerate the greater blessings that are yours now and that it shall be your duty to cherish, to protect, to develop so that when it shall be your turn to pass them on, they shall be even more valuable than when you received them from us.
These are the treasures of the spirit. We do not blame you too much because you do not appreciate them now. We were young once ourselves. What we do ask of you, is to value them because we learned through a life of intense living to value them – to cherish them, because we feel they are worthy of your highest esteem – to protect them, because we fought for them, use them to enrich our lives, and out of respect and reverence for those who gave them to us, we hold them sacred. Life without them would be a return to the laws of the jungle.”
I have taken this to heart and suggest that you may want to as well.
I have focused my genealogy work on including what, for lack of a better term, I call our ancestors’ ‘culture and fabric’ of their lives.
I find this part of my charge as I document names, places, and events. I MUST let those who come after me know what it was like. What our ancestors did and how they did it. How they lived, learned, partied, and interacted.
I am also blessed to have some diverse branches in my ancestry. Not only did they come from such diverse cultures as Cornwall, Italy, Bohemia, and others.
Then I am doubly blessed to have had them settle in different areas of the country.
So I have some ancestors who were big, urban city dwellers. I have some who were Midwestern farmers. I have some who were sojourners. I have some who lived in the hill country. Some lived in small towns. Many worked the mines and mills of industry. Life in each of these areas was different, especially in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Certainly living and how you lived was different in the city of Cleveland, a farm in North Dakota, and the hills of Southern Ohio for instance.
I spend considerable time trying to gather and elicit as many stories about what it was like to grow up and live in each of these areas! Not only does it enlighten family members as to history, but it also can help explain who we each are today and why we are the way we are! Plus how fun to learn what family life was like in a big city, a small town, a farm, etc. at the same time in history.
So … as you do your documenting, name gathering, fact accumulating, etc. be sure to gather, keep, and protect that cultural fabric that wove the lives of each of your ancestors.
As the Sokol said “These are the treasures of the spirit.”
Onward To Our Past,