15 April 2010

Tidying Up

I am not the tidiest of genealogists. My preference is for creative chaos over orderly investigation. In the end, though, I find out all sorts of interesting things that a more methodical approach might miss.

Some people have been surprised at how quickly I have discovered facts that they have not been able to find even after many years of fruitless searching. My usual approach is to identify the most likely direct source of information and contact those particular individuals.

What is your approach? What motivates you towards taking that approach? And what do you hope to achieve through your genealogical endeavours?

When I make an effort to tidy up my findings, I try to build up mental pictures of past social environments. You may have heard that my approach is part of what is called "History from below".

More about history from below

In many ways, I am far more interested in history from below than I am in genealogy in general. So many people have had very similar lives, existing in similar circumstances and with similar experiences. I like to discover people from the past who have broken stereotypes in their own times, and may also do so in the minds of historians and others today.

Nevertheless, this blog gives access to all sorts of genealogical information for beginners and advanced researchers. I use Ancestors Within as a place to put the interesting links I find. Here is a link you may find useful:

25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs

My own experience is that many genealogy blogs have similar information, or details mostly relevant to people with an interest in one particular family or region. Hopefully, I provide something a little different here, so you may find things that are useful whatever your family origins, current location and level of research expertise.

One way I tidy up my research is by involving people who may have already discovered the information I am attempting to discover. I like to encourage family members to write down their memories of the past, perhaps even record them in audio or video form, looking through old photographs and documents to recall memories, and make lists of the questions they themselves are hoping to answer.

We can often forget that family history is not the work of a single person. It involves the input and memories of many. Fortunately, my untidy yet successful research endeavours have inspired my mother to type her memoirs. Here are some youtube video links for her - though they may also jog the memories of people in your family:

Puff the Magic Dragon

The Hippopotamus Song

Ah... memories...

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I especially appreciate historical insights.