Things to Love #3: Family History and Genealogy
From an early age I’ve been interested in genealogy. My paternal grandmother had so much information about where and who she came from. I remember seeing a huge, handwritten wheel that was made with her at the center and her family branching out from there. I was struck by it all. And, when she died, I volunteered to be the caretaker of all of the family history documents, letters, photos, and memorabilia.
So, our storage room is full of tub after tub, hundreds of pounds of keepsakes. Much to Rory’s chagrin. And delight.
I’ve captured a lot of my family history at Ancestry.com in a family tree for myself. I’ve written many an article about it at GeekDad. Check those posts out to learn of my researching adventures. But I encourage you all out there to record what you can about your own lives, and those of the lives who came before you. If you’re fortunate enough to have parents, grandparents, or even great grandparents living, get information about their lives, and record it. Names and dates are great, but also addresses, schools, friends, and anecdotes will help paint a picture of their lives.
I’ve learned so much about my family from reading their letters, seeing their yearbooks, and examining land deeds. There is the Christmas letter from Theodore Geisel to my dad’s family when he was little (yes, that Theodor Geisel); there are the letters from my great grandfather to my grandmother during his time in Germany after World War II; there are my great grandparents’ wedding rings; there is the diary written by my great grandmother during the time before she died in the flu epidemic in 1918. This stuff is amazing. Your family is likely to have interesting things in it as well. But if you can’t find anything, start keeping a few things from your own generation for posterity. Your great grandchildren might thank you.