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Re: [S-R] Lack of Interest in family history - YOU are now the historian!

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  • MaryLou V. Crouch
    Bill, I haven t been on the forum much lately--focused on another family line at the moment--but what you wrote really reflects my own experiences. Family
    Message 1 of 21 , Apr 5, 2010
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      Bill,
      I haven't been on the forum much lately--focused on another family line
      at the moment--but what you wrote really reflects my own experiences.

      Family members are glad that I'm doing this work but when I ask for
      contributions--any old documents, photos, stories, anything-- I get
      nothing from them until someone dies and the household is being cleaned
      out--then my requests are sometimes remembered and I am allowed to take
      stuff that would be thrown out. I have found historical treasures this
      way--beautifully decorated Baptismal documents that had been rolled up
      and stored in an attic for ages, for example.

      It is disheartening but I continue to work on the family history so
      future generations will have something to build on. We are products of
      that history not only physically but also emotionally, spiritually, and
      intellectually.

      I happened to see part of a PBS show with Dr. Dwyer (sp?) yesterday--he
      was discussing "memes" which translated to cultural habits of mind, to
      beliefs carried from one generation to the next, and to mannerisms or
      habits within a family. One example he used: how the depression of the
      1930s shaped his mother's life and perspective and her habits of saving,
      reusing, being thrifty carried over to him as a part of who he is.

      Part of our family history shows us what "memes" we carry within us--why
      we think and act the ways we do. In many ways, I am glad the show "Who
      Do You Think You Are?" is having great success. While very light on the
      hardscrabble work of genealogy, the show does emphasize the impact of
      family history on the individual and invites the audience members to
      begin their own treasure hunt into the past.

      Marylou


      On 4/5/2010 9:00 AM, billski wrote:
      > I've reformulated this discussion because the title quite a bit off the original topic
      > Re: [S-R] SURNAMES-Wachtenheim-Szolyva/Svaliava
      > and I'd like to draw attention to the hundreds of readers who may have elected to ignore the thread.
      >
      > What Helene says rings true, I'll add one more story. I stayed in my villages of Zboj and Nova Sedlica for two weeks, spending the days and nights meeting and speaking with dozens and dozens of family and "relatives" of one sort or another.
      >
      > What struck me at first, was that I seemed to know A LOT more about the family than anyone I met.
      >
      > After about a week, I politely asked one of the elders why they never wrote these things down or knew much about their family history. The answer was quite telling. "Because we are surrounded by our family and our history. There is no need."
      >
      > I left behind a small stack of paper including photographs which included family trees, history, and copies of church books. Never since that time did I receive any inquiry or comment on this material.
      >
      > Only the photographs were of interest. "Yes, I can see we are related - look at that face."
      >
      > Coming back to the US, that kind of bothered me, but I assumed they were too busy working to engage in such idle-time frivolity. Since that time, I've slightly adjusted my perspective. It seems, that regardless what country we live in, history of most sorts is disregarded. The essential question seems to be, "How can this information help me live my life today?" And, for the most part, it does not.
      >
      > On both sides of the ocean, I slam into privacy concerns all the time. It seems to fall into two camps. The first is that it's going to get into sinister hands that will use the lineage information against them. The second is that "He must want something. Why is this guy fishing around about me? Does he want to take the family farm?"
      >
      > Then comes the inevitable family gathering and some chit chat about family history. It's polite, it's cursory, old stories are told, and it ends.
      >
      > I wish I could be as optimistic as Debbie. I don't think anything is changing. While access to records has become light speed, human interest in family history remains in the dark ages.
      >
      > YOU are the family historian, like it or not. There is always one person in a generation of a family group who becomes the family historian. People come to me occasionally for information, but usually only to obtain a "sound byte" or a piece of trivia. Nobody asks, "what was life like?" "why did they come?" "How did they work?"
      >
      > I take my unofficial role as family historian quite seriously. My work may be flawed, but it's all my family has. I've bundled up all sorts of material and sent it to relatives I believe most likely to hang onto it. My hope and wish is that my little "bundle" will inspire someone someday to pick up the torch and carry it. No need for them to start from scratch - take it to the next level. As each generation departs, we lose so much richness.
      >
      > Bill
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
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      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SLOVAK-ROOTS/
      >
      > To unsubscribe from this group, go to http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/SLOVAK-ROOTS -or- send blank email to SLOVAK-ROOTS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.comYahoo! Groups Links
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    • Ron
      ... The families puts up with my eccentric interest in family and culture and take it as a matter of fact now. The Europeans are interested in seeing and
      Message 2 of 21 , Apr 5, 2010
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        --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "billski" <bill.tarkulich@...> wrote:
        The families puts up with my eccentric interest in family and culture and take it as a matter of fact now. The Europeans are interested in seeing and hearing how the American family is doing, and their eyes spark with interest when their current name is mentioned. Kids seem most interested in the distant cousins their own age.

        But it seems everyone is wrapped up in everyday life, putting bread on the table and raising a family. So my work is for myself and my goal is to leave what I gather in a form that will be useful to someone in the next generation who may pick up an interest in it all when they get to that stage in life.

        What I like best of all is your quotation:

        "Because we are surrounded by our family and our history. There is no need."

        Ron
      • Jeanne Versweyveld
        Bill, You have expressed my feelings so to the point. For instance at a family birthday party for my 80 year old uncle a number of years ago, I distributed a
        Message 3 of 21 , Apr 6, 2010
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          Bill,
          You have expressed my feelings so to the point. For instance at a family birthday party for my 80 year old uncle a number of years ago, I distributed a simple form for birth, marriage, death dates for each twig on the tree-my cousins, my generation. Everyone knows what I am doing, they love looking at the 3" thick binder with family trees, photos, documents etc. But that is where it ends. Out of the dozen or so sheets I handed out not one was ever returned.
          When I asked my mother's 98 year old cousin questions about the old country and why did my grandparents and her parents come here...she simply says it was never discussed. No discussion about their parents or their grandparents. It was just left behind. Traditions were brought over and sustained but no stories about the past. And quite frankly, I was too young to even know what to ask and now they are gone.
          You are so right. We are the historians. We put ourselves in that role and regardless of whether or not others appreciate it, and I am sure they do, we should be proud of our accomplishments. For every piece of the puzzle I fit together, I am victorious! There will, hopefully, be someone in the next generation that will fill my shoes and continue. I can only pray for that.

          Jeanne Ferris Versweyveld

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • takukuk@aol.com
          It seems like that is a story or condition that everyone of us can sympathize with. Kukuk In a message dated 4/6/2010 2:15:16 P.M. Central Daylight Time,
          Message 4 of 21 , Apr 6, 2010
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            It seems like that is a story or condition that everyone of us can
            sympathize with. Kukuk


            In a message dated 4/6/2010 2:15:16 P.M. Central Daylight Time,
            fversweyveld@... writes:




            Bill,
            You have expressed my feelings so to the point. For instance at a family
            birthday party for my 80 year old uncle a number of years ago, I distributed
            a simple form for birth, marriage, death dates for each twig on the
            tree-my cousins, my generation. Everyone knows what I am doing, they love looking
            at the 3" thick binder with family trees, photos, documents etc. But that
            is where it ends. Out of the dozen or so sheets I handed out not one was
            ever returned.
            When I asked my mother's 98 year old cousin questions about the old
            country and why did my grandparents and her parents come here...she simply says
            it was never discussed. No discussion about their parents or their
            grandparents. It was just left behind. Traditions were brought over and sustained
            but no stories about the past. And quite frankly, I was too young to even
            know what to ask and now they are gone.
            You are so right. We are the historians. We put ourselves in that role and
            regardless of whether or not others appreciate it, and I am sure they do,
            we should be proud of our accomplishments. For every piece of the puzzle I
            fit together, I am victorious! There will, hopefully, be someone in the
            next generation that will fill my shoes and continue. I can only pray for that.

            Jeanne Ferris Versweyveld

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Nancy Hayes
            The same thing has happened to me when I’ve sent family history forms for relatives to complete; I’ve gotten dirty looks about why I want to dig around in
            Message 5 of 21 , Apr 6, 2010
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              The same thing has happened to me when I’ve sent family history forms for
              relatives to complete; I’ve gotten dirty looks about why I want to dig
              around in the past; the past is the past and leave it there (makes me wonder
              what they’re hiding!) lol Which only makes me want to find out even more!
              I talked to my mom about her family history when I started this hobby pretty
              seriously in the 1980s; she said that when she was a child, the rule in her
              parent’s house was, ‘children should only speak when they’re spoken to’. No
              wonder no one knows or cares about their past family history if all they
              ever got was negativity about asking.



              When I discovered all of my relatives & ancestors in Italy in 1991, I also
              discovered that only one cousin was the family historian for the Italian
              side; I’m the historian for the USA family side. My Italian cousin died a
              few years ago, and as far as I know, no one in her family or beyond has
              taken her place in this hobby. And no one even cares to write from over
              there, so I believe the hobby is dead for them. What a pity!



              Finding this group has revived my family history interest on my dad’s side
              of the family/my maiden name and a few others.



              Nancy



              From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
              Behalf Of Jeanne Versweyveld
              Sent: Tuesday, April 06, 2010 2:08 PM
              To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [S-R] Re:Lack of Interest in family history - YOU are now the
              historian!





              Bill,
              You have expressed my feelings so to the point. For instance at a family
              birthday party for my 80 year old uncle a number of years ago, I distributed
              a simple form for birth, marriage, death dates for each twig on the tree-my
              cousins, my generation. Everyone knows what I am doing, they love looking at
              the 3" thick binder with family trees, photos, documents etc. But that is
              where it ends. Out of the dozen or so sheets I handed out not one was ever
              returned.
              When I asked my mother's 98 year old cousin questions about the old country
              and why did my grandparents and her parents come here...she simply says it
              was never discussed. No discussion about their parents or their
              grandparents. It was just left behind. Traditions were brought over and
              sustained but no stories about the past. And quite frankly, I was too young
              to even know what to ask and now they are gone.
              You are so right. We are the historians. We put ourselves in that role and
              regardless of whether or not others appreciate it, and I am sure they do, we
              should be proud of our accomplishments. For every piece of the puzzle I fit
              together, I am victorious! There will, hopefully, be someone in the next
              generation that will fill my shoes and continue. I can only pray for that.

              Jeanne Ferris Versweyveld

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Bill Tarkulich
              I have given very serious thought to who is going to inherit my genealogy work when I die. For starters, all the copy-able material, including trees, photos,
              Message 6 of 21 , Apr 6, 2010
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                I have given very serious thought to who is going to inherit my genealogy
                work when I die.

                For starters, all the copy-able material, including trees, photos, contact
                lists and letters will be distributed to multiple family lines. Maybe one
                will stick.

                Second, I am going to specify who is going to get my books, and other
                supporting documents. Some of it might go to one of the cultural or
                research groups. Some of the books I have are so difficult to obtain,
                that I'd hate to see them locked up. I'll be darned if I'm going to see
                people look at my books and say "hey, no interest, chuck it."

                Bill
              • deeellessbee
                Bill, I m glad to see I m not the only one, lol! I actually have it in my will as to who will get my genealogy stuff! My kids are both history buffs like
                Message 7 of 21 , Apr 6, 2010
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                  Bill, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one, lol! I actually have it in my will as to who will get my genealogy stuff!

                  My kids are both history buffs like myself (both are history majors in college) and hopefully that interest in history will spread to their own family history.

                  As far as others in the family, NO ONE is interested - they don't even particularly like looking at pictures or talking about it at family gatherings. Some will listen for a bit, but then walk away to join other conversations. Some even roll their eyes when/if the discussion rolls round to genealogy.

                  I have one third-cousin on my mom's side who is very avidly researching - he has gotten very far back in his own lines (hundreds of years!), and he even told me more about my Slovak and Russian side (my dad's side) than I knew! He's so into it that he researched all the little "twigs" as someone else called them, never mind his own main branches. So he knew more about my lines than I did. I've now caught up to him pretty well, in terms of research done, and investigating skills, etc., and we love to talk genealogy with each other, but we are the only two in a very large family who care about this. Very sad.

                  On the bright side, I have recently found a cousin who IS into genealogy and who realizes the importance of it, and we now have a nice e-mail relationship (thanks to someone on this board, actually!)

                  Like many of you, I will do this because it is important to me and I find it to be fun, and I will leave whatever I have and hopefully someone will appreciate it at some point in time!

                  :)
                  Debbie

                  --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Tarkulich" <bill.tarkulich@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > I have given very serious thought to who is going to inherit my genealogy
                  > work when I die.
                  >
                  > For starters, all the copy-able material, including trees, photos, contact
                  > lists and letters will be distributed to multiple family lines. Maybe one
                  > will stick.
                  >
                  > Second, I am going to specify who is going to get my books, and other
                  > supporting documents. Some of it might go to one of the cultural or
                  > research groups. Some of the books I have are so difficult to obtain,
                  > that I'd hate to see them locked up. I'll be darned if I'm going to see
                  > people look at my books and say "hey, no interest, chuck it."
                  >
                  > Bill
                  >
                • haluska
                  I just hope you are not going anywhere soon Bill! Well said.... Dennis ... the ... nights ... of one ... the ... answer was ... history. ... included ... time
                  Message 8 of 21 , Apr 7, 2010
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                    I just hope you are not going anywhere soon Bill!

                    Well said....

                    Dennis
                    --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, CasperVeth@... wrote:
                    >
                    > Wow - well said, Bill! You nailed it for the rest of us "historians."
                    >
                    > Ray Veth - Middletown, NJ
                    >
                    >
                    > In a message dated 4/5/2010 9:02:57 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                    > bill.tarkulich@... writes:
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > I've reformulated this discussion because the title quite a bit off
                    the
                    > original topic
                    > Re: [S-R] SURNAMES-WachtenheiRe: [S-R] Re: [S-R] SUR
                    > and I'd like to draw attention to the hundreds of readers who may have
                    > elected to ignore the thread.
                    >
                    > What Helene says rings true, I'll add one more story. I stayed in my
                    > villages of Zboj and Nova Sedlica for two weeks, spending the days and
                    nights
                    > meeting and speaking with dozens and dozens of family and "relatives"
                    of one
                    > sort or another.
                    >
                    > What struck me at first, was that I seemed to know A LOT more about
                    the
                    > family than anyone I met.
                    >
                    > After about a week, I politely asked one of the elders why they never
                    > wrote these things down or knew much about their family history. The
                    answer was
                    > quite telling. "Because we are surrounded by our family and our
                    history.
                    > There is no need."
                    >
                    > I left behind a small stack of paper including photographs which
                    included
                    > family trees, history, and copies of church books. Never since that
                    time
                    > did I receive any inquiry or comment on this material.
                    >
                    > Only the photographs were of interest. "Yes, I can see we are related
                    -
                    > look at that face."
                    >
                    > Coming back to the US, that kind of bothered me, but I assumed they
                    were
                    > too busy working to engage in such idle-time frivolity. Since that
                    time,
                    > I've slightly adjusted my perspective. It seems, that regardless what
                    country
                    > we live in, history of most sorts is disregarded. The essential
                    question
                    > seems to be, "How can this information help me live my life today?"
                    And, for
                    > the most part, it does not.
                    >
                    > On both sides of the ocean, I slam into privacy concerns all the time.
                    It
                    > seems to fall into two camps. The first is that it's going to get into
                    > sinister hands that will use the lineage information against them. The
                    second
                    > is that "He must want something. Why is this guy fishing around about
                    me?
                    > Does he want to take the family farm?"
                    >
                    > Then comes the inevitable family gathering and some chit chat about
                    family
                    > history. It's polite, it's cursory, old stories are told, and it ends.
                    >
                    > I wish I could be as optimistic as Debbie. I don't think anything is
                    > changing. While access to records has become light speed, human
                    interest in
                    > family history remains in the dark ages.
                    >
                    > YOU are the family historian, like it or not. There is always one
                    person
                    > in a generation of a family group who becomes the family historian.
                    People
                    > come to me occasionally for information, but usually only to obtain a
                    "sound
                    > byte" or a piece of trivia. Nobody asks, "what was life like?" "why
                    did
                    > they come?" "How did they work?"
                    >
                    > I take my unofficial role as family historian quite seriously. My work
                    may
                    > be flawed, but it's all my family has. I've bundled up all sorts of
                    > material and sent it to relatives I believe most likely to hang onto
                    it. My hope
                    > and wish is that my little "bundle" will inspire someone someday to
                    pick up
                    > the torch and carry it. No need for them to start from scratch - take
                    it
                    > to the next level. As each generation departs, we lose so much
                    richness.
                    >
                    > Bill
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
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