Getting to the Source of a Family Record
I’ve mentioned this record before. It’s the family record my great-grandmother Anna created and distributed in 1979 that identified the children, siblings, parents, and grandparents of her and her recently deceased husband. Being twelve years old and having never wondered about any of these people, I was thrilled to suddenly consider them. Being twelve years old, I also lost interest and moved past the whole situation with head-spinning speed.
In retrospect, of course, I’m deeply disappointed I wasn’t older or perhaps had the precocious wherewithal to follow up with my great-grandmother. Did the record preserve everything she knew about her and her husband’s families? Or did it just summarize her knowledge? Did she record this data from memory? Or were there older family records she used as her sources?
I had plenty of time to ask about these things too. She lived until 1990, a year after I graduated from college and moved to New York. Alas, my real interest in genealogy was still fifteen years away from emerging. When it did, not only had my great-grandmother died, but her daughters (my grandmother and great-aunt) had slipped deeply into dementia. Following up on the family record would once have been an easy exercise; now it would be a real challenge.Only NGS members have access to full articles of NGS Monthly. Please log in or click here to learn more about joining the National Genealogical Society.
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This is a really helpful article. It’s amazing how little pieces of information from disparate sources can fit together like puzzle pieces.
Sometimes it’s the little things that keep our enthusiasm alive. I have an ancestor from Mississippi, Walter, who attended Dartmouth College and learned a lot about him before and after his time there from a book of memoirs written by the class secretary, who corresponded over the years with Walter’s sister. While at Dartmouth, Walter befriended a local man named Byron, who traveled back to Mississippi with him and married Walter’s sister. So I was (probably excessively) thrilled when I came across a contemporaneous news item in the Memphis paper that named the two of them under hotel arrivals.
Great article – “if only” in my family. Grandma’s papers, Christmas decorations from Germany, and everything else were thrown out by her son (my uncle) when she died. “Who wants that junk,” he said. Sigh…. The other side not much better. I come from a long line of photo-phobic and record-phobic ancestors on both sides. Makes it interesting for sure. Jean