Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Family History ... More than just a Family Tree

I am a history buff. Really! Even in high school, I liked to study history. Learning from events and ideas from bygone days is critical to avoiding future mistakes and understanding trends. At least that is how I see it!

A couple of years ago I started taking this interest in history a step further. I wanted to meet my ancestors, learn what they did and why they did it. I knew that they came from the old countries 130 years ago ... but why? With a little help from cousins and a nephew, I began to create our family tree ... loaded it with facts and photos ... but that was not enough. I started writing a family history. Two years later, it is a living document and it is taking shape. I have learned so much about family as far back as 180 years ago. Pretty cool.

In searching out ephemera ... photos, old documents, antiquarian books ... I have started to dig into the people behind these pieces of paper. In a few cases I have been able to re-connect families with some of their lost history. That's fun.

Writing family history is more than just building the family tree ... more than just adding photos and birth certificates. It is a lot like writing a story, so I have researched not only families, but the work of other family historians to learn how they cope ... how they organize and preserve their archives ... how they write!

This blog (Maybe someone should write that down ... Writerly ways for family historians and storytellers) has been quite helpful ... and funny as well. If you are interested in family history, you need to check this out. One especially constructive post is "6 Things Every Writer Needs." Mom (the pseudonym of the blogger Kassie Ritman) gives a list she lives by and it is right on.

Let me know about your family history adventures.

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