Today is Tomorrowâ€™s History
Being the family historian, I am immediately thrilled when I find something written by my ancestorsâ€”a card, a letter, a note to the milkman; even a shopping list takes on added proportions, because it gives me an insight into their lives.
I have been concerned for some time now, that in the age of e-mails, computers, and e-cards, my descendants won’t have the same benefits, so this year I decided to take matters into my own hands. Having five married children and sixteen young grandchildren, I asked each family if, instead of a purchased Christmas gift, they would give me a potted [condensed] history of their lives over the past year. I told them they could do it in any form they wished, it could be done by one member of the family, as a project by the grandchildren, just whatever they were comfortable with.
Christmas came and I can honestly say I have never been so thrilled with the gifts I received. Some had made scrapbook pages of special events. Some had written a month by month run down and included photos. One was excerpts from her diary, and another had included pictures drawn by each of the children. Still another had copied and laminated school awards and prizes. Every one of the projects was special and unique.
As they all read each other’s projects there were lots of oohs and ahs and, â€œyou didn’t tell me that.â€ Everyone enjoyed it so much that we’ve decided it’s to be a regular Christmas event and this is one family historian who is a lot happier knowing that our tomorrow’s history will not be lost.
Look at What You Have in Storage
Fourteen years ago I put a box of family pictures and papers in a box after my parents died. When I saw the box as I was putting away my Christmas decorations I pulled it down and found a picture of great-grandparents that I didnâ€™t know I had, newspaper items on the family, and my grandfatherâ€™s original naturalization paper. What was I thinking? Ok the items had been a storage facility for five of those fourteen years but I hadnâ€™t looked even after they were retrieved. Lesson learned: Go over the items you have. You might find something you didnâ€™t even know you had.
As I read Jenifer’s tip about looking for name variants, I had to chuckle as I recalled the most amusing altered name I have found. On a census record, my great-grandfather Bonkemeyer’s surname was listed as Meyer, his given name and initial as Bonk E. It does help to be reminded often of the little tips that help make genealogical research more productive.
Peggy G. Burton
Administrator FTDNA Atwater Surname DNA Project
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