Sharing Cards Received
My mother had saved cards for years and when she moved in with my sister, she wanted to know if I wanted the cards. I said yes. So I also sorted them out by families and friends and have them for those who want them in the future.
While going through cards I found several from a good friend of hers with notes written in them. She always wrote what was happening in her family to keep my mom up to date. It just so happened that the son was in my class at school. So I sent the cards to him. This told him what his mother was thinking of him and his children each Christmas and was an addition to his family history written in his mother’s hand.
A Cautionary Tale
I submit the following (illustrated) bitter, cautionary tale to Ancestry.com for publication in hopes that it will be instructive to others.
My mother, with whom I shared the genealogy bug, died in 2000. My father remarried in 2004. When my father remarried, he moved into his new wife’s house. This resulted in a sudden need to empty the house where he had lived with my mother and distribute the bulk of our family heirlooms among myself and three siblings.Â
Since I, the remaining family genealogist, lived far away, I came for a week at the time of the wedding and tried to be of service in the major task of disassembling our father’s house. I expected all the family jewels–genealogy files, picture albums, slides, old documents–would remain with my father. They, after all, are part his life, too, and they did not require much space.
Lists were made, heirlooms packed, a wedding was celebrated, the house was emptied, and our father moved. The actual move took place several weeks after the wedding and the two local siblings bore the brunt of emptying the house.Â Â
For almost ten years, I have been gradually scanning family pictures from far-flung family, leaving our own collection for last. On a recent visit to my father I finally asked, “So where do you keep the photo albums?” Dad’s response, â€œI don’t know who has them,â€ sent chills down my spine. I quickly contacted my local siblings only to be confronted with the answer, “I thought you took them.” One sibling added, “I thought those albums just contained pictures of Mom and Dad’s recent travels.”
And so, that is that. They are gone forever–pictures of my grandparents in their youth during the first decades of the last century, my great-uncle standing in his grocery store in the 1920s, all our childhood pictures, school pictures, family reunions, and so much more.Â Â Â
A few of my favorites were scanned over the years, but with no particular attention to resolution–since I always intended to return and do a proper job. All the originals are now lost.Â
The action was not mine, but I had a part. I assumed that everyone in the family cherished these jewels. They did not.Â
Timeline in Excel
I found a form for a year-by-year timeline. I printed it out and shared it with a class I taught but never really took the time to fill it out. I had a few moments the other day and sat down with the file of one of my great-aunts and filled it in. It worked well, but I later found I had made a mistake so I decided to create my own timeline form on the computer. I did my form in Excel and used four columns: â€œYear,â€ â€œAge,â€ â€œImportant event,â€ and â€œDocumentation.â€ When I was finished I realized how useful the document could be so I added a fifth column–my â€œTo-Doâ€ column. The Excel format allows me to add to the timeline as new information becomes available. I include every instance where the individual was mentioned in print. This is a new tool and I believe it will be very useful.
Sasktoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: mailto:email@example.com. Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!
Quick Tips may be reprinted, with credit to the submitter, in other Ancestry publications, so if you do not want your tip included in a publication other than the â€œAncestry Weekly Journal,â€ please state so clearly in your message.