By Trayce Duran
Facebook has a new feature encouraging you to create ‘Your Story,’ and I have noticed friends start the process. The idea of recording your story is an interesting one that’s time has come to social media. But when you take a moment to think about it, isn’t that what we’ve been doing for centuries through scrapbooking, photo albums, and journaling? Is there an additional step that we can take to be more proactive in preserving our personal history beyond the above-mentioned hobbies? Yes, and it’s fun! It requires connecting with family in order to fill in the missing pieces and to document that information.
Theoretically the beginning of ‘Your Story’ starts with you, at your birth; or does it? Think this through with me: the long awaited, joyous day finally arrives! After (give or take) nine months your family gathers, potentially great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings, all come to celebrate your birth!
But there’s so much more to your story! Each person is a foundation stone in the creation of your history. You may have the opportunity to know and to be known by your intimate family, but there are those farther removed, like 2nd or 3rd cousins. Some family may live far away or even in another country. Distance can make relationships difficult to maintain, and likewise, so can tension within the walls of your own home. Then there are those who have passed on. Each person, past, present and future, plays a vital role in your adventure through life. So instead of thinking in terms of ‘your story’, let’s consider ‘your family hiSTORY’.
I was blessed by my Aunt Marie who laid a great foundation for the research of my family’s history through her deep desire to connect with our ancestors. She traveled to New Jersey and then on to England in search of information on relatives who had long ago passed. Marie thought that she had a solid link between our American relatives and those from England, but when I dissected the information I found a glaring gap, and now I have a puzzle to solve. Marie filled in a ton of pieces and we added enough information that I am at a critical point in confirming our history as far back as 747 AD! Marie played a vital role in mapping my story, our family history!
Recently while researching my paternal grandmother who passed before I was born, I found the paperwork from her immigration from Ireland to the United States dated 10 Oct 1909. Do I need to know that information for my story? Not really, but it’s so important to our family history! It was an exciting discovery! I never knew Anna, but when I fit pieces of the puzzle of her story into place, I am able to connect with her in a way I never thought possible, and continue to build our genealogy! One of my cousins has also begun searching out our family history and has a few pieces of recent events that I am missing, and I certainly have a ton to pass on to her!
So when you think on a grand scale about your story or better put, your history, there’s a LOT to consider. It’s so important to ask questions of great-grandparents, grandparents, and even your own parents. Listen to and document the stories that they tell. Perhaps you’ve heard that story told since you were a child, but get it in writing or write it down yourself. Ask to see family pictures. After your parents are gone you will have no idea who the guy is in the back with the funny ears, and more than likely you won’t have anyone to ask. Begin to build your story now by keeping a journal of important events, have your siblings do the same and build on that foundation, paving the way for upcoming generations to track family. Don’t be surprised to find that they are excited to join you on the journey and to help you fill in the missing pieces.
Tell us how your experience in family research is going, and if you have found any interesting relatives along the way! In a future post I will disclose a famous relative in my tree that has made research a little easier and fun!
Let us know if there is any way that we can help you on your journey!
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https://www.durangenealogy.com/the-public-genealogist or like us on Facebook.
Eric is owner of Eric J. Duran Genealogy Services. He spent a year interning with Kane Detective Agency, a private investigations firm, where he learned investigative techniques including research strategies, database searches, and public record research. Eric has completed Boston University’s Certificate Program in Genealogical Research, and serves clients using stringent methodologies borrowed from both fields.