Your Journey is Just as Important!
by Silver RavenWolf
Traveling through time to unearth your family connections can conjure a wide range of emotions — curiosity, frustration, elation, disappointment, amazement, and even shock (on occasion). Once you solve a particular mystery, a new one surely follows. Personal history research often moves into local, political, and national events in your quest to understand and honor those who have gone before you. For example, in looking for an obituary in the early 1920’s you may run across articles on health epidemics, ads for clothing styles, and what the greatest invention of the year might be. A window to the past opens beyond the confusing labyrinth of names and dates — of far too many Jacob’s, Mary’s, Daniel’s and Catherine’s who didn’t have the common decency to be creative in naming their children, and secondly who never thought to leave some sort of record so that I would know, in 2010, who was related to whom in 1836! The nerve!
And that’s my point. In 2184 someone will be looking back at the research you’ve done (provided you file it in more than one historical society and keep home records — never can be too careful) . Not only will they be reviewing your work about the Jacob’s, Mary’s and Catherine’s in 1836, they will be wondering about you. Are you making some sort of journal, record, or diary of where you traveled, who you spoke to, how you felt in your quest to build your pedigree? Truly, the effort you spend on your research is just as historically significant as the lives you are attempting to piece together.
Don’t be shy! Even if you only take notes, go ahead and scatter a little of your day-to-day life in the margins, or write a journal page in that composition book you dedicated for collecting pieces of information. Go ahead and share your feelings. Let the future know that you searched for three months to find Harry, or had to drive 200 miles just to get a death date for Elizabeth, or how you felt when you found your grandmother’s birth certificate shoved under a box filled with old canning jars that were headed for recycling. That’s all a part of history, too! Did you have to stop your sleuthing because you went camping with the family, or landed a great new job that ate up more hours than you anticipated, or perhaps you exhausted a particular line of information and just don’t know where to turn next? Your journey, your life, your feelings are just as important in the tapestry of your genealogy experience as the names, dates, and other information you work so hard to reconstruct!
Have someone take pictures of you while researching and be sure to add them to a section in each of the books or files you may be building. When working on each family unit, why not write down your experiences in diary form? Add current information and how current events or your feelings affected your research. Talk about the questions you have, how you found this source or that. Show us the person that cared enough to retrieve and share the past. Let the future see and hear the author that is you!