08 March 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 1

Thirteen Things about Genealogy

1…Don't look for famous people. They may be there, but most people don't have them. One or two may show up in passing, but their history has already been written. You are tending to the unknowns.

2....The stories are as important as the dates. Tell as many as you know.

3.... History not passed on is history lost.

4.... Your children won't care about the family tree until you are dead. Don't expect it and don't neglect it, as they will have a host of questions to ask when you aren't there to answer.

5.... If you do absolutely nothing else, label your photographs. When somebody cares, they will want to know the names and locations of all those people in the funny clothes .

6.... Scandals happen to every family in every generation. You're sainted great great grandmother was a teenager too. You are the family historian not the morality clean up crew.

7.... Keep a diary (or print copies of your blog). They will be invaluable later. Historians depend on writers writing.

8.... Almost every city, county and state have a genealogical or historical society usually staffed with volunteers willing to share everything they know. You will not find a more generous group anywhere.

9.... If you are an American, the National Archives and Ellis Island are national treasures. Most American sources are a pain because they are kept by State and County not nationally, but you can still find a lot of information at the National level. If you are from elsewhere, find out who is responsible for your records. If you are Scots, I am so jealous, the color is a permanent shade of green.

10... Find a "Family History Center" and hug a Mormon. You will find more information, expertise, and assistance there than virtually anywhere else, and most of it is absolutely free no strings attached.

11... Save your sanity. Get a good computerized genealogical program. Trying to do it family sheet by family sheet has been known to lead to nervous breakdowns. Print it out and make backup copies anyway; crashes happen.

12... Timelines and "Today in History" can help you understand what your ancestors faced.

13... The human comedy is really really funny.

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Chelle A. said...

Great 13!

You are right about kids not being too interested. When I was a kid, geneology was the furthest thing from my mind. Now, at 38 (and after grandma has past away), my interest is peaked. :)


Missy said...

This is a magnificent list! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with the rest of us.

Journeywoman said...

Great list

Vader's Mom said...

Amen to #5. I hope that everyone does that. It's so hard to go through my parents photo albums and stumble across those few photos they didn't label.

JennyMcB said...

Good list - So I'm really not from royalty? I agree with the previous comment about labeling pictures.

Tink said...

I love genealogy. My mum's family even has its own website with pics and stories. Even more interesting since my mum died, because I can't ask her things anymore...
Thanks for visiting my handbag TT!

Adwina said...

I also believe that our blogs can help our future grand children to trace their ancestor.

Great list!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Coming from a large family on both sides, along with a closed adoption many, many years ago....History not passed on is LOST>

Dayna_Hart said...

I had to start labelling photos when my second son turned out to be a clone of my hubby. ;)

And there are famous people in my family tree...mostly famous criminals!

Crazy Working Mom said...

Awesome TT! Great information.

Jamie said...


Not to worry. We have a few beheadings a couple of murders etc. OTOH, the emporer of Holy Roman Empire did make the descendants of one of my relatives Counts and Countesses in perpetuity. Unfortunately for me .. no more Holy Roman Empire in perpetuity.

Queen of Wands said...

Your list is great! Thanks! :-) I've been wondering about what I need to do to find our more about family history.

Morgen said...

Jamie: this is a great list -- when I was a teenager, I must've been ahead of my time. I wanted my great-grandmother and my grandmother to tell me all about my family history. What I was given was a published history book, that was "white-washed" of the scandals. Some, like illegitimate kids, were there if you knew how to read the dates, but I wanted the stories. My great-grandmother refused. My grandmother told some stories, about other people in the family, but refused to tell me about HER own childhood. It was very frustrating.
If I had time now, I would research it all and write a book.

srp said...

This is a great list, so helpful. I must admit that my brother is more into the genealogy than I. I have an aunt who has researched my dad's side of the family and Stephen has taken it back to England. We don't have as much on my mom's side.

I have to laugh about the pictures. We cleaned out my parent's house and found an old photo frame of my grandmothers. There was a faded picture of a very handsome young man. I asked Mom who it was, someone Grandma knew? No, it was just a nice frame and she though that whoever he was, he should stay in it. So there are pictures in her albums with no label and some are probably pictures she found in an old garage sale and just thought they were nice.

Jamie said...

Anyone who would like some tips on how to get started are welcome to drop me a line.

Janet said...

Interesting list! I've tried tracking down my Dad's father, but never had any luck. We think he ended up a drifter, and possibly he died without ID somewhere.

PJ said...

I'd love to know more about my family history, maybe one day I'll look into it. Great info here. Happy first TT.

Christine said...

I try to lable my pictures. Now that I have digital photos I find it easier to organize them. One of these days I'm going to sit down and organize my family history.

And I've never thought about printing off my blog enteries. That's a great idea.


I have found places in my family where people had the same last names as other parts of the family.This confused me until I found out that they had married someone from a different country with a last name that was already in the family. There are also a lot of cases of brothers marrying women who were sisters in my family. I get so confused every time I unravel any of it.