Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Family History

My little brother and I are working on family history with my Grandma. She has spent years and years collecting pictures, stories, birth certificates--you name it. We have pictures of headstones, and a family portrait of a little family on the edge of the Oklahoma Territory, accounts written in letters from the 1800s--it's absolutely amazing. And it's all just sitting in boxes at her house.

Well, Nick is a bit of a technonut and he's downloaded Mac Family Tree onto his computer. He has entered in as many names as possible. And he's painstakingly downloaded pictures into the program so that it's like a family facebook. If I wanna see what my Great Great Grandma Stella looked like--I find her name--click on it--and a picture pops up. He's amazing!

My job is to connect this information with the and see what temple work can be done. Also--if you want to know what the world was like when this ancestor was alive--you can click and it will open up a Wikipedia page describing the world when and where they lived! It's just awesome.

So, we're slowly but surely scanning in these documents and pictures so that we can share these records with the rest of the family. It's been a lot of fun to work on with my Grandma and with my little brother. He's such a good kid.

If you are just getting started with Family History--allow me to give you a few helpful pointers that were given to me ten years ago.
1) Find a nice box and just start throwing pictures and stories into the box. Don't worry about organizing it--just start gathering!
2) Send letters to relatives asking for any stories or pictures that they can share. You'd be amazed at the response. My dad's mother--Nana--is not LDS--but when I asked her if she had any family history to share--she came out with about 10 sheets of typed information and said, "Here, see if this will help." As I looked closer, I noticed that it was the names of every direct ancestor from my Brisbin/Smith line all the way back to the 1300s, with birth and death dates and places. I was blown away.
3) Once you start getting information--I seperated things into 4 binders--1 for each Grandparent. But again--just having 4 boxes is fine too!
4) Don't forget to gather information on families and not just parents. Many people will want to go back in time as far as possible, but now the fun is gathering information on cousins and second cousins and extending the branches far and wide rather than back so far.
5) If you get stuck--move on. The information will come in one form or another at another time.
6) If you know of a near location and a vague time--you can search through census records and discover a lot about a family. For instance, if you find that your great great grandmother Mathilda Smith lived in Pittsburg in 1920 and she is listed as being 8 years old--you can put down that she was born in 1912! Census takers recorded the names and ages of all the people living in the house--and they often included their country of birth!

I wanna know your secrets. What are your tricks for doing family history? My belief about family history is that there is a time and a season for everything. My grandma spent her life gathering information. And now Nick is here to see that all this information that she gathered is organized.

You may only have time to throw pictures into a box, or to have your grandmother write a list of names she can remember. But that's enough! Someday, that picture and that list will prove to be the key to a connection that you or a child will make at a later date.


Bonny said...

That is so cool! I caught the spirit of Elijah again from your post!
My mom and I used to do this stuff together!
Our family goes back to Jamestown, so I can be a member of the Jamestown Society (Ahem.) I just have to get it together!

Eve said...

You are royalty Bonny!

Bonny said...

Haha. I feel pretty much like one of the coolest people on earth.