Family history is my passion and joy: the stories of the generations who have gone before me. While the basic biographical details provide the necessary building blocks, taken alone this data is boring and unengaging. What really captures my imagination is the opportunity to squeeze official and unofficial records for every drop of information about an ancestor until I can get a sense of each one as a person, their life experiences, the times they lived in, and the challenges they faced.
None of my ancestors was wealthy or famous yet there is a rich vein of stories to weave into a unique family tapestry. Over the years my research has broadened to include families from the same regions of origin so it’s possible to see what’s “normal” or “typical” in terms of education, employment, migration and mortality: a micro-study in history.
Firstly I joined in the 52 weeks of Personal Genealogy and History in 2011 hosted by Geneabloggers and designed by Amy Coffin of the WeTree Genealogy Blog. This gave me guided opportunities to dredge my own memories of childhood and growing up and to search out old photos to illustrate the stories. One might expect that people around the world would have very different experiences but I was surprised to find just how similar the life experiences were for fellow bloggers of a similar generation, even in that pre-digital, pre-internet era.
My husband’s family lived in Papua New Guinea for nearly 25 years and we also lived there after our marriage. Our older children experienced life in PNG but as small children and over time their memories will dim. This was a chance to leave a history of where we had all lived and a little of what life was like there. My husband wrote a couple of guest snapshots for places I hadn’t lived or visited. We’ve also been fortunate enough to visit many of the ancestral places world-wide so I was able to talk about those from personal experience. Only rarely when challenged by a letter of the alphabet did I succumb to using a place I’d only visited as a tourist.
What have you done to preserve your family history? Are there any good research resources that you'd like to recommend?
Be sure to visit Pauleen at her blog Family History across the seas.