Your Quick Tips, 18 December 2006

Genealogy 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–but to my family, I am a family story collector, not a genealogist.

Bruce Miller
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!

Gill Middleton

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4 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 18 December 2006

  1. I definitely agree on labeling the pictures, I have inherited a lot of photos from my great grandmother and my maternal grandparents and most of them were not labeled. Luckily some of the older generations either remembered when they were shown or knew who they were. I also think my the place where the picture was taken city, state and possibly the date. I have gone back to start labeling my pictures so that my son and his future generations will know a little of our family vacations, family gatherings, cousins as well. I still have pictures of family that I have no clue who they were. I guess when I die I will find out then.

  2. If you do not have a picture to label of a relative write a little about them How tall, color of hair and eyes, weight,.If you know what work they did and where they lived. Someone else that you share information with may have a picture of that relative and can match the decription and location and can then label it for your history.

  3. Good advice on labeling the pictures — I have many that are at present unidentified and there are very few elders in my family to help me.
    Also, the idea of photographing the handiwork of a person is excellent — wish I had done so for my grandmother who quilted umpteen quilts for her children, grandchildren and some of the greatgrandchildren. She would have loved pictures of her family together with their quilts. And I would love to have those pictures now myself. I have pictures of some of the quilts and my mother prepared a list as to what quilts were given to whom but who knows where those quilts are today as most of the people live out of state. And how am I now to track the various handcrafted items my mother made and gave to all of her grandchildren, etc.? I am keeping a list of my own handcrafted items for my heirs and will try to do one from memory of my mother’s work. Oh, to have thought of this years ago!

  4. Bless you for the reminder of labeling pictures. I am always jealous of people who have those “stiff” pictures of the man sitting with the woman behind with her hand on his shoulder. Our family did not have any of those saved–finally I found a cousin (distant by 2 generations) who had pictures of my ancestors. The people in the pictures look similar to our grandparents BUT most are not labeled so we now have these lovely pictures and we don’t know who they are. There were only two pictures labeled with the names of my greatgrandparents and those pictures have been passed around from Ohio to Arizona to Georgia to Oregon by e-mail this past month.
    I am labeling RIGHT NOW for the future when people will be wondering who we are and what that strange saucer thing is that we are throwing around the yard.

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