GenealogyÂ vs. Family Stories
Believe it or not, the word “genealogy” may intimidate, scare, confuse, or just plain irk some people. They may associate it with snobbery or the old stereotype of trying to show descent from famous people, or worse, an invasion of family privacy.
The word genealogy can be also be interpreted to mean “family talk” (see the Oxford English Dictionary for details). And that’s what I say when visiting, writing, or calling a family member. I never use the word genealogy; instead I say I want to hear them talk about the old family stories.
When visiting, I find taking notes or making an audio tape right from the beginning can be uncomfortable. So if something important comes up, I say “Oh, I never heard that, let me jot that down,” and pull out an old crumpled envelope and a pencil stub. I quickly jot down the fact, and while I am at it, any other mental notes I have made.
Sure I have an audio recorder, digital camera, video camera, GPS, computer, maps, and a subscription to Ancestry.com–but to my family, I am a family story collector, not a genealogist.
Cos Cob, CT
Photos of Grandma’s Gifts
My husband’s mother enjoyed handwork and embroidery. Pillowcases or dresser scarves were gifts when one of her twenty-two grandchildren graduated from high school. Large tablecloths were gifts to her five children. Then she started crocheting afghans. All of her children received one, as did each grandchild, as a wedding gift. Then came the baby afghans and there were some twenty-five or so of them–not to mention all the ones she donated to the church bazaar.
She is in a nursing home now and to celebrate her ninety-fourth birthday I asked each person who had received one of her gifts to send a photo of him or her with the item. At the party we enjoyed seeing the wonderful variety. It was especially great fun to see one great-grandson, who is well over six feet tall and weighing more than 245 lbs., proudly holding his little pink and blue baby afghan. Some couples posed wrapped in their large ones and singles clutched their pillows with Grandma’s embroidery work.
The photos were posted on a display board by her bed where she can see all her hard work displayed and know that it is being preserved.
My next job is to get copies of all of those and make them available for the distant family to enjoy.
Nita Drummond Cragg
Have You Labeled the Photos in Your Wedding Album?
Have you recently looked at your own wedding album? Are the family groups labeled? Mine weren’t! I know who they are, but future generations might not.
My mother and I have just spent hours wondering who all the people in a beautiful 1899 wedding group were. Yes, we knew the bride and groom, presumed the father, but which lady was his second wife, and was that Uncle John or Bert? I didn’t realize how important labels were until I started genealogy. I’ve recently seen five albums of beautiful photos inherited by a newly discovered cousin almost all unlabeled. We were able to recognize quite a few but there must be so many relatives in those albums that we can’t name. Make it easier for our children and their descendants. Label, label, label!
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