Former NGS board member B. Darrell Jackson had an unusual request for his birthday. He asked his three adult children to read one of the six books he has written on their family history and write about their impressions. His son’s response was particularly thoughtful.
I am struck overall about how little we can know of the lives of people who we have never met. There are no tax records related to one’s feeling for one’s spouse; no plat maps that delineate the quality and variety of one’s sense of humor; no draft registrations that describe one’s voice, cooking skills, or the fashion in which one prefers one’s tea.
As genealogists, we often focus on proving identity, relationships, and vital events. In doing that work, we sometimes lose sight of what we ultimately want from family history: to get to know our ancestors. One of the most compelling ways to do this is to use sources that actually contain our ancestors’ voices.
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