Saturday, June 26, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Happy birthday, Fen! I know you can't read this but it doesn't really matter because your Gram loves you more than words could ever express anyway.
Hope you have a wonderful day today (and always!)
And I'll keep reading that book to you over and over and over again. I promise. :)
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
But that's because I've got another project cooking. Yes, I know there is a deadline that must be met in time for my German ancestry book to be printed and bound before I personally take it to Germany and present a copy to a library near the little village from which my ancestors hailed. (My goodness that's an awkward sentence! What in the world am I doing writing a book?!)
I told you. Writing two books! Try to keep up.
You see, my paternal line (as in, my dad and his siblings and their families) are having a family reunion at the end of this month and I decided months ago (7 months ago to be exact) that I would compile our mutual genealogy into a nice volume of 8.5 x 11 inch papers held together with a wire binding such as one could put together at the local office supply store. Nothing fancy, you know, like 300 book-sized pages with an embossed vinyl cover. No, nothing like that. Why, this should be a piece of cake in comparison.
And that wonderful genealogy software in which I have so much money invested would help me get that honey done lickety-split, right? Wrong! I found that I was spending too much time trying to get the thing formatted. I opted instead to generate an Ahnentafel report to use as my outline and then used my computer's word processing software for typing the actual manuscript. At first I resented the process but now I'm thankful that I elected to do it this way.
Which brings me back to my original thesis about why every genealogist should write their family history. And I do mean physically write - or type - each person from generation to generation.
- It brings errors to light. Seriously. It wasn't until I was physically typing in certain details that I noticed an ancestor had to have lived for almost 110 years! And even then he was almost 80 when his daughter, the one through whom I descend, was born! Okay, neither of these things is impossible but both are highly improbable. It became obvious that the information I had for William, father of Sarah, just could not be! After a bit more research I decided that I had probably blended the records of 2, or perhaps even 3, different men named William into 1. Which William is the father of Sarah? Hard to say. And since I could not say with any certainty I ended up pruning a whole branch from the family tree. It was painful, but necessary!
- It makes you reevaluate your sources. Or do you not cite your sources? I do. Or I thought I did. But I found a few instances where I forgot to add where I had found certain details. I then had to search for documentation for data I was presenting as "facts."
- It makes you reevaluate your sources. Did I just say that? Well, I'm not stuttering. There were times that I had my source listed but upon further investigation I began to question the validity of the source itself. If I learned anything from being a registrar for the Daughters of the American Revolution it is that not all sources are created equal! Some just aren't reliable no matter how well-meaning they are.
- It helps you go beyond "just the facts, ma'am!" By that I mean that I have tried with all my might to put personality to those names. It hasn't been possible to do so for every ancestor but more often than not something can be found about the person's life. And they were people, after all, with real lives and stories, and not just names on a page. For example, I discovered that one of my ancestors lived in a cave! Yeah, okay, here we go with the caveman jokes and it isn't even an insurance commercial, but really, truly! I found references that said he and his wife happily raised their family in a cave even though he was quite a wealthy man. Okay, glad that ancestral home didn't pass down through our family!
- It can expand the family tree. This is probably my favorite reason. Out of curiosity I did an Internet search for the last person's name that I had on one branch (known as a "brick wall" in the genealogy community) and was stunned when her name turned up in a digitized version of her father's will found at a state archive website! Hooray! New avenues of research opened right before me! I had forgotten all about her in the process of researching other brick walls but after that I dutifully typed in every brick wall as I came to it. Several were broken down due to the rapid expansion of data becoming available on the Internet each day. Growing new branches helped make up for the hurt of pruning some of those other branches. And I must say that this was my favorite reason why I think every genealogist should physically write his/her family history. No doubt about it!
So, my own dear paternal family, rest assured that our genealogy will be ready by the time our tribe gathers together to break bread, tell bad jokes, and introduce its newest members to each other. However, it just might be for Family Reunion 2011 and not this one!