May 012015
 
Facing ancestors' past

How do we face our ancestors’ past and how does that effect our family tree.

We all saw Ben Afflecks’s embarrassment over his ancestor’s slave ownership splash across headlines. To me, the surprise wasn’t that he wanted Finding Your Roots to edit out that information. What surprised me was that the issue hasn’t come up sooner.

Ben Affleck isn’t the first one to look through his roots hoping to find royalty or framers of the constitution who found the reality distasteful. Many of us have had the urge to turn away rather than facing ancestors’ past.

Researching my own ancestors in Virginia, I breathe a sigh of relief when I see that they didn’t own slaves. Continue reading »

Apr 162015
 
Author Judith Fein emotional genealogy

Author Judith Fein writes about emotional genealogy

Today, I’m particularly pleased to present a guest post by Judith Fein and her concept of emotional genealogy.

When I gave my first talk about the power of Emotional Genealogy, I wondered if anyone would be able to connect to what I was speaking about. To my surprise, audience members asked questions for over an hour, and then they continued with personal questions for another half an hour.

You may be wondering what Emotional Genealogy is. Briefly, it involves examining how the behaviors of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents influenced who we are and how we are in the world. And it doesn’t matter if we knew them or not. Continue reading »

Apr 032015
 
Are you a cousin? Are you related to AJ Jacobs

At RootsTech, we all held up “I am a cousin” signs. We’re all related to AJ–and to each other! (Photo credit RootsTech)

Because it’s not really about AJ and me. It’s about the fact that we’re all related—by blood, adoption, and marriage. Well, in a way it’s about AJ, since he’s the one organizing the Global Family Reunion. Continue reading »

Feb 262015
 
Memories Family Stories and community learning

Memories, family stories, and community learning were all featured on this episode of Dear Myrtle’s Wacky Wednesday

Dear Myrtle, “Your friend in Genealogy since 1955,” was the would-be storyteller’s friend on her February 25, 2015 Wacky Wednesday show (embedded below). And, as the guest on her show, I got a great taste of community learning. Continue reading »

Dec 162014
 

Pinterest is great for family historians Pinterest—the social media “pinning” site, is often overlooked by genealogy buffs. That’s a mistake. Whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, Pinterest is great for family historians. If you spend any time on social media, consider this one.

What all the Pinterest hoopla is about

Pinterest’s popularity initially soared with the wedding planning and recipe crowd. However, the rest of the world is catching on to what makes it such a powerful and enjoyable tool. It’s a visual search engine and personal collection depot in one.

Continue reading »

Nov 112014
 
Telling your family story

How do you tell your family story?

What is your family story? As much as we talk about the importance of  passing down family history, we seldom define what that a family story is. Is your family story a compilation of all the individuals’ on your family tree? Is a story that takes place under one roof? Alternatively, is it a story that took place over generations?

Your family story can be any or all of the above, or it could be something else entirely. Continue reading »

Oct 132014
 
oral histories versus gossip

Are oral histories less reliable than playground gossip?

As much as we (okay, I) love technology, we sometimes wonder if it isn’t stabbing us in the back. Just as we wonder if access to calculators is undermining our math skills, a case can be made that technology is to blame for the decline of the art of oral histories.

Josh Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, doesn’t point a finger at the Internet. He argues that the Gutenberg Press bears responsibility for the decline of oral histories and the faculty of individual memory. As books became available, people didn’t have to remember everything. They no longer had to pass down stories with great attention to detail and nuance. Continue reading »

Oct 102014
 
Aiming and putting down roots

Putting down roots isn’t a random decision.

The place we choose to settle and put down roots has far reaching (no pun intended) consequences. It’s the community our children call home. It’s the environment in which they form their worldviews. Frequently, it becomes the place children and grandchildren choose to start putting down roots. In other words, it’s something that will matter to future generations. But it’s often a story left untold—especially when it comes to our ancestors. Continue reading »

May 292014
 

Lives of World War I Injuries Historians at London’s Imperial War Museum (IWM) are trying to preserve the stories of 8 million people. That’s how many World War I stories they estimate are in danger of being lost to “living” memory. And, that’s only counting those who served the British Commonwealth.

The “Great War” began on June 28, 1914. We’ve lost the lives of World War I–the veterans, survivors, nurses, and doctors of that war. In addition, the next generation—the children that knew their stories, are also aging. These stories are in danger of being lost to history. Continue reading »

May 012014
 
Questions for Ancestors Field Clark

If I could just get that interview, I ‘d have questions for ancestors

In my family tree, there are huge gaping holes in our family stories. I have so many questions for ancestors. If I could go back in time with a little voice recorder, there are quite a few of my ancestors I would want to  interview. I’d also have a few questions for my husband’s ancestors—after all, they, too, are my children’s progenitors.

Note: Keep in mind; stories don’t have to have happily-ever-after endings. Your questions for ancestors could lead to great stories about them!

Van Field Clark: “Are all Grandma’s war stories true?”

Van Field Clark was “Grandpa Clark” to my grandmother. As she collected her memories, she wrote down some of his Civil War stories, none of which I have been able to substantiate. Not only would I want to know if the stories are true, I would want to hear them first hand. Continue reading »