14 January 2015

A new year genealogy resolution

It’s been well over a month since I last posted on this blog, and despite the fact that I’ve been itching to get back to it, life in general just seems to keep getting in the way. But that’s quite okay, life’s for living and that’s what our time on this earth is all about. 

Summer on the farm: shifting sheep
Besides the very busy Christmas period that I’ve no doubt we all experience, life on the farm has also been so busy, busy, busy lately. Whenever I think that I’m about to get a free hour or two so I can head into the office to do a wee bit more research or scan a few more old photos, I get called upon to help shift cattle, or draft sheep, or weigh lambs, or something similar. In past years the kids have helped out on the farm and have done a lot of this work over the busy summer period. But as some of you reading this will already know, life for our family has changed recently with both of our kids finishing their high school careers and moving on to the next stage in their lives. They are both now working full time (one in a permanent job, and the other full-time at the moment raising funds to begin university next month), so that means they aren’t here to help out anymore, so more of it is falling back on me. And with that I find my time for my research, and my scrapbooking, and my writing, and all the other things that I love to do, have all taken a back seat. But that’s quite okay, I don’t mind helping my husband out with these jobs and I know that in a few months time when the busy summer period on the farm is over, and when my daughter is away at university, I will get some of my free time back.

Summer on the farm: making baleage
So with that in mind I thought that I would begin the new year by explaining how I am attempting to come at my research from a bit of a different direction this year and to hopefully do my bit to preserve my family history research for future generations. 

The number one thing on my genealogy “to do” list for this year is to continue with my project to get my family history research sorted and do something more meaningful with it. Creating this blog was the first big step in the process of making my research more accessible to other extended family members. I have been chasing ancestors and their descendants for almost thirty years now and all that I really have to show for it is boxes and boxes of old documents and photos (only partially sorted), and a huge, huge database of facts and figures in the family tree programme on my computer. Don’t get me wrong, there is an absolute wealth of information contained within these records, but unless you are someone who is very much “into” genealogy, browsing through someone else’s computer database just isn’t that interesting and it makes our family history very difficult to share with anyone. 

And if I were to drop dead tomorrow, I am sure there wouldn’t be anyone in my family that I can currently think of that would jump up and exclaim “she has all our family history on her computer; let me at it, I want it”. I would imagine one of my kids would probably claim my beloved computer, and it would then be used for gaming or ‘Facebook’ or such-like, and the family history contained on it would just sit there in the background until such time as they needed more room on the hard-drive, and then with the tap of just a few buttons it would be erased, just like that, and be gone forever.

My new shelves in my office. Still at least ten
more binders needed to complete my collection.
My aim for this year (and continuing right into the future) is to get more of the story of our family history actually written down to be shared. Last month I bought myself a new bookcase for my office and have started creating what I hope will become my family history legacy and my gift to future generations. I want to get back to basics and start recording more about the actual lives of those family members most closely related to me and my actual direct ancestors. My database currently contains thousands upon thousands upon thousands of names of those who can all be linked back to myself in one way or another throughout history. But many of these people are just so far removed from my main ancestral branches that I thought it was time to put a stop at present to just the collecting of more and more names and dates, and instead focus a bit closer to home on just the main ancestral branches and their families. (I will in time get back to these more removed branches as I do also like to follow branches right down to the present day if I can; but that’s another project for another year).

It took me many, many weeks of thinking about this before I decided exactly how I wanted to attack this project, but what I have come up with I am very happy about. It may not be the best system out there but it is one I feel very comfortable about and look forward immensely to getting on with it. I have begun to purchase 3-ring binders and hope to have one binder for each set of direct ancestral grandparents, right back as far as I can go. And within these binders I want to record everything I know or have found out about that particular couple’s life. The binders will also contain individual tabs for each of this main couple’s children, with another tab directly behind each child for that of the child’s descendants (their children and grandchildren). If the child is one of my direct ancestors that I descend from I will only have minimal data for them in their parents folder but will instead make a reference to them having their own folder.

I hope I aren’t confusing anyone and you are still following what I am attempting to do. To put it in slightly plainer terms, I want to only concentrate on those I directly descend from (and also include their children and grandchildren). And at this point in time I will go no further down any particular branch than that. There are many siblings of my direct ancestors that I have no knowledge of as yet, and it is the filling in of all these gaps that are “closer to home” that I want to concentrate on.

A work in progress; a close-up of some of my new binders
You might say I could have saved myself a lot of the money I have spent on binders etc and still do this using just my family tree programme on my computer. But as I explained above, that defeats the purpose of what I am attempting to do. I want to share what I have and what I find, and what better way is there to do it than to pull out a particular binder and let the person you are wanting to share it with actually see for themselves the photos, and read for themselves the stories that relate to their family too. There is nothing like holding a real actual book (or binder) and reading it for oneself to be able to better understand and feel more connected to those from whom we descend. And when the time comes that I breathe on this earth for the final time, I hope that these stories in these binders can then be more easily passed on and more easily shared with future generations. 

So many genealogists nowadays are trying to go all digital in the hope of simplifying their lives and their research. I myself will never do this as a physical book is so much more likely to be kept and cherished and passed on than a collection of digital files, that with the push of just one little button could all be gone FOREVER !!!

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