Looking at the Bigger Picture
Family members were cleaning out a seldom used closet and came across an old, much used quilt. Much of the fabric of the colored pieces had been worn away and I was asked if I saw any reason to keep it. As I was thinking whether we might want to “promote it to rags,” as my mother-in-law would say, I unfolded it to look for unworn areas. It was then that I realized the overall effect was quite beautiful. So now this quilt has a new life, hanging over a balcony railing.
I think there’s more than one lesson here. One applies to standing back and taking a broad look at an old quilt’s overall effect. The other applies to family history in general. We may have shreds of evidence that seem too sparse to be of any use. But sometimes, when we stand back and look at the bigger picture, patterns and relationships emerge from scattered details. For me, this has meant poking around for records of the siblings of ancestors, and finding time to read histories about some of the places where ancestral families lived.
Susan C. Hopkins
Filing Tips and the Paper Trail
It is time for spring cleaning again, and this also includes that huge stack of info we have been meaning to file all year. As the new pieces are added to their appropriate folders, it is a good chance to go through that folder, coordinate the information, and update the other files related to the new info. These new additions are flagged when they go into the folders so that when I work the files I know whether I have already dealt with the info or not. Post-it notes or flags are great for this.
As my paper files increase, it becomes more important to keep the info not only available, but manageable, as these are my backups for what is on the computer. (Yes, I would really prefer a card catalog to the computer index at the library.) I also keep a Rolodex with a brief entry for every paper file and as I add new files a new card goes on the Rolodex. This is an easy first check to see if the information is in there before I begin the search.
I live in an area where there are frequent power outages during at least half the year due to the weather, so I don’t always have a chance to save what I’ve been working on the computer–hence the paper trail. At least that doesn’t get lost when the lights go out!
While researching my Arizona ancestors a few years ago, I ordered a book from eBay called “Vanished Arizona,” by Martha Summer-Hayes. It was originally published in 1910 and told her own story as a cultivated New England girl who becomes an army wife and follows her new husband to his next post in Arizona, which in the early 1870s was virtually unknown. The story is very interesting, but the descriptions of the land and people at that time helped me understand what it was really like.
I also picked up an older fiction paperback at a thrift store called “Remnants of Glory,” by Teresa Miller (copyright 1981). It is set in Oklahoma 1907-63 and gives a bit of insight to the people who settled the state of Oklahoma. It is an easy read, with a bit of historical romance thrown in, but it does paint a good picture of life in that place and time.
Karen Grieve Tomblin
AWJ Editorâ€™s Note: You can find more book reviews in the Book and Movie Corner of the 24/7 Family History Circle blog. If you have a book or movie that has inspired you or given you insight into the lives of your ancestors and other family members, please send it to Juliana@Ancestry.com.
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