In Genealogy – Find the Ancestors, but Don’t Forget About You and Your Family!
Those of you who follow me here, in my GenealoygBank.com column, on our Facebook Page, etc. know that I am a huge fan of finding and documenting our ancestral family stories. They serve as an integral feature as we focus on creating our family trees and weaving the full tapestry of our family histories and genealogies.
As I was working on our personal genealogy just the other day, I recalled something from my school days that served as a valuable lesson for me in my genealogy. You see, throughout my school years, especially through El-Hi, far too many of my history teachers quit teaching history when it came to the times of their lives. While this may have been totally understandable to them – they lived it so it simply was not ‘history’ to them. This was why I was thrilled when I got to college and discovered a history class was offered titled “American History: 1920 to the Present”. I was finally able to take this class my senior year and it was one the most enjoyable classes of my entire four years at University. I finally got to actually study those years that were ‘history’ to me, but hadn’t been ‘history’ for so many of my teachers.
So it is with our family trees and genealogy – don’t forget your years. While time is always at a premium we all need to remember to take some time in order to document our stories as well our family members’ stories, memoires, and histories and include them in our family trees for our genealogy.
There area many benefits to be gained by doing this, but one of the most important benefits of this activity will be to create an easy ‘hook’ in your genealogy for the younger generations. This will be especially true if you are concerned about who or how your genealogy will be carried on once you no longer can, or are around, to continue working on it.
As genealogists we all know the mantra from when we began that you needed to find the eldest members of your family and gather in their stories, memories, names, place names, etc. However, our goal in doing this was oriented around the fact that as genealogists we wanted to begin going backward in time and to take advantage of those memoires, etc.
When we add our own stories and experiences as well as those of our family members to our tree we are nurturing our tree with fruit that will draw in our younger family members. Since they know us, they will likely find the stories we relate to be potentially more interesting than some of those we have documented and captured from and about their ancestors, whom they may not have known or remember only as a fleeting, or partial, memories.
These stories will show we were human, perhaps had our own foibles, personalities, and made human mistakes, and certainly have fun! We can also fill in blanks we have discovered in our ancestors’ stories that we’d have liked to be able to ask them. For me, for example, I would love to know how my paternal grandfather and grandmother met. They came from small towns in Cornwall, Great Britain only about 5 miles apart. They left their beloved Cornwall independent of each other, but managed to meet and fall in love in Cleveland, Ohio some 5 years later. It may have been a case of the story being told, but as a youngster, me not listening. More likely it was a story that was never told since neither my sisters nor my Mom knew the answer when I asked them about this. Now it is lost. So I have made certain that I added the story of how my wife and I met, some 40 years ago to our family tree. Likewise we collected and preserved this story for my wife’s parents, my folks, and other members of our family who were willing to share their stories with us.
The stories of our own lives, while not ‘history’ to us, will soon be viewed as history to those coming along behind us.
Think not? Well, our own grandsons will never know computer punch cards or a typewriter let alone what a mimeograph machine was with its unique aroma and blue/purple ink. They will not know the ‘thrill’ of being asked to wash the chalkboards and clap the erasers out the door after school. Elton John’s beautiful song “Kodachrome” will be a mystery to them as to what Kodachrome and film cameras even were, not to mention the mystery of what the purpose of 35mm slides ever was! And with the advent of Facetime, they already cannot quite understand why some people would want to talk on the telephone without video.
Capture YOUR stories …. Before more of the things in our lives go the way of coopers, lamplighters, and buggy whip makers.