Monday, December 26, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Advice

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.
  • Week 52. Advice. Do you have any advice for future generations who may be researching your family? For example, was there a name change or a significant relocation in your past? This is intended to be a very flexible question. Answer it any way you wish.

 And here we are at the last week of the year.  My first whole year of blogging, I started (a few days late) with the 52 Weeks series and made every entry save one, and I'll try to get that one out this week as well. 

Advice for future generations looking back on this family?  Perseverance.  Keep looking.  Even if it's not a constant active search.  Perhaps especially not a constant active search, you'll get tired and burned out.  Things will come to you when you least expect it.  Put out lots of feelers and wait for a hit, sort of like fishing.  Hopefully it will be easier for you, as more records get digitized and become more easily searchable.  Hopefully they get digitized before they get lost.

I started doing this in the very early 1990's, and got a kickstart from my grandmother, Alta May (Day) Dillman.  She handed me the information she had, and some hints of where she might look.  This was pre-Internet, almost nothing was digitized.  You had to visit courthouses and other records repositories in person, or at the very least contact them by postal mail, a lengthy process.  There were computer Bulletin Board Services (BBS) that a savvy person with a computer and a modem could dial into, and leave messages for other users.  I was an early adopter of those, and made some early genealogy contacts that way, but the vast majority of my data waited until after the Internet became strong before it became accessible to me.

If you're my descendant and you're reading this and interested in genealogy, I'm going to assume you got your kickstart from me, since no one else is very active with our family history right now.  What I've left you is just a smattering, far too much of it is undocumented, or under-documented.  It is correct, to the best of my knowledge, but there are a bunch of assumptions which may prove over time to be false.  I'm not finished, I will keep working on documenting the data, and working on citation so you can spot check me to be sure I've got it right.  I'd also like to get more medical history information in there.  As we learn more about such things, we find family history and genetics playing a major role in our overall health.  If you don't know your history, you can't be sure of your future...

Keep working on it, keep adding to the data, correcting it where you find error.  And you will find errors!  But most of all, have fun with it!  It's the sort of thing that can become dreadfully dull if you're not enjoying it.  Don't lose your sense of wonder at what our ancestors went through to get our family to this point.  If it helps, think of it as an ongoing story, not just dead history full of names and dates and places.  Who were those ancestors, and what did they have to do to survive?  How was their life different from yours, even if they had a similar occupation?  Most people were farmers, but farming has changed considerably in the last 150 years.  I'm a computer technician, but computers change even faster than farming methods.  Your idea of an IT technician may be radically different from what I do now.

I hope that wasn't too long-winded.  Do the best you can, but DO it.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it never will be.  This is one thing where "good enough" will have to be good enough.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman