A recent trip down memory lane, literally, with my Dad to the city of Birmingham UK got me thinking of the value of revisiting the past. When I was young I loved the summer. It was when our relatives might arrive on their vacation and call to see us. One particular aunt who lived in England loved taking photos of us and we all had to stand outside with a suitable rural backdrop! I was the eldest of a large family and we grew up in the country so it was exciting to have relatives we didn’t see very often come to visit. This visit would be planned for weeks so the house was painted, best clothes put on and apple tarts made!
My aunt would catch up with my Dad (her brother), ask about other family members and what was happening in our lives. We loved sitting in on the conversations but didn’t really know who they were talking about most of the time.
Now that I’m a genealogist I’d love to have those moments back. Sadly my aunt is no longer alive. My trip to Birmingham though was a chance for my Dad to catch up with his two younger brothers – out of a family of 10 there are just three ‘boys’ and their sister who is over 90, left. We got to talking about family connections and my recent DNA test results. I had found a match to a family that I couldn’t find a link to – one short conversation with Dad and I discovered there was a definite connection to this day. Of course when I got home I was on the trail and quickly unlocked the mystery. Despite the plethora of online databases and resources you can’t beat a conversation with an older family member to bring down that ‘brick wall’ – very apt analogy as my Dad was involved in the construction industry in his younger days!
My Geni Tips
So, what are your plans for Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays?
If you are planning to meet up with relatives and want to research your family tree, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Know what you don’t know!
- Start with what you know, work back from yourself, your parents, their parents
- Are there gaps – do you know your grandparents names on both sides? Do you know your grandmothers maiden names?
- Do you know your parents and grandparents siblings names?
- Do you know where they were born or lived?
- Do you know what your father/grandfather’s occupation was?
- Arrive prepared with your questions but give your relative advanced warning so they too are prepared
- Have the right setting – not in the middle of a busy coffee shop or wedding venue with loud music!
- Ask their permission if you plan to record video or audio and let them listen back before you share with others
- Family stories and anecdotes are embellishments to any record searches you might do and make the whole family history process more personal.
If you would like more tips or individual advice email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
These are just some of my suggestions and tips – I would love to hear your experience of interviewing family members at a get-together!
Website: Hibernia Roots