Family History Research

Wisdom Wednesday – Consider their “Firsts”

I came across something I wrote years ago about “Firsts”. It seems fitting as I think about my research and my current history as my boys started school this week.

Years ago I took a flight to Florida with my future husband. That was the third time I had flown and I was 27. As I sat on the plane I thought about all the photos I would take, the brochures I would collect and how amazing my scrapbook would be of our trip. In addition to being a genealogy addict, I’m also a scrapbook addict. My boys’ lives are well documented in photos.

As I thought more, I wondered what firsts my ancestors had. I’m sure crossing the ocean on a steamship was a first. What crossed their minds when they saw that huge ship? Was it awe? Wonder? Fright? I remember when I first sailed over Christmas 2007. When I saw the Disney ship we were boarding I almost cried I was so excited! And my boys were in awe of this giant thing and ready for fun.

What about technological firsts? When my ancestors immigrated, in house bathrooms were becoming more available, electric lights, ice boxes. What did they think of these things after coming from rural areas of Eastern Europe? I look back about 15 years and think of how the internet and email has changed my life. What would my ancestors think of that?

When you write your family’s history, and your current history, consider the firsts. I think this is something we often overlook when we write. Almost take it for granted that it is part of our lives so it must have been theirs too.  And keep in mind that firsts can be large or small and are important to the person experiencing them.  Add these firsts to your stories and your families will become even more alive.

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Wisdom Wednesday – Check the siblings

Working on some research I was reminded that we should always check the siblings of our main lines when researching. Not to only focus on our main line because we can get stuck and have no other options to move the research along.

By tracking the siblings of our main line folks, we can see where the families moved when they grew up and married. We can follow a widowed parent at times, moving with one of the children. Knowing where each child was, at least for every Census year, we can sometimes narrow down where someone might have been born, married or died.

Don’t neglect the lines of the siblings. You never know what treasures you will discover.