112Who's Your Family Historian?
- Oct 6, 2010Many family reunion planners have proudly taken on the task of becoming the family historian and visa-versa. The fact is family genealogy research can be fun, exciting and addictive. Now one only has to sit at a computer with keyboard at hand and a wealth of genealogy information is just a few keystrokes away.
Fimark Home Online at www.fimark.net, the makers of the award winning Family Reunion Planner, also developed the Genealogy Research Toolkit found at http://genealogy.fimark.net
Some of the features include access to free non-commercial libraries, arvhives and databases not publicized online. In addition the kit provides research forms and worksheets that enable organized in depth research, recording and planning.
While online genealogy research reveals much about the family tree
and the history behind the branches, to fill in the blanks you need
to resort to age-old methods that will never become obsolete.
Consulting the elders. The family elders have a way of breathing life, character and reason into your genealogy work transforming your research from a dead collection of facts and data into lively family chronicles or even a novel or sorts. Tapping into the information that may only exist in the deep recesses of the minds archives can be enriching and intriguing to say the least. But access into this aging organic database can be a challenge.
But how can you tap in to this goldmine and keep the treasure chest
open for the taking without exhausting the eldest family member in
the process? The key is to open the mind with inspiration, carefully
selected questions, consideration and expressions of genuine
Family reunions are the key to tapping into this information treasure chest. The elders will likely explode with joy when memories long forgotten begin to flood the mind.
Allow the elders to examine old photos of family members and scenes
of his day. Interview the next oldest elder in the company of the
eldest. The two will help each other down the path they call memory
lane. Have the elder's son or daughter present if only to ask
questions leading to more information. Once the elder starts talking
you won't be able to get him/her to stop. But who wants to stop,
right? That said; plan to attend the next family reunion with a
view to interviewing the elders.
Choose Well Selected Questions
Take note of everything said. When information is slow coming ask
questions about what was already said. Why, how and when did
families migrate from the south to New York City, New Jersey or
Baltimore? What contributions did relatives make to 20th-century
Atlanta Georgia? What contributions did we make to the industry we
worked in? Where do our distinctive features and surname originate?
It is not just enough to ask about what was seen and experienced but
what it meant to them or what lessons they learned. It is advisable
both to write and get the interview on video camera.
Motivation To Go On
When asking questions stay on the subject. Straying too far from
where the elder wishes to go can be a mental strain and stressful.
Allow them to develop their story as they see fit during most of the
Interview. If you sense you have exhausted the subject move on.
Show Consideration - Provide Refreshment
Stop for breaks if the elder seems fatigued and needs water and
refreshment. 30-minute intervals of information every few hours may
be all that's the elder can give. Make the most of it. Ask the elder
for another session later in the day or on another day if the
reunion is a long weekend event.
Appreciation Goes A Long Way
Take the time to express appreciation for the time and effort each
elder put out to add to the family chronicles. Write a personal
letter of appreciation, present an award or certificate signed by
the family and reunion chairperson. Present oil painted portrait of
the eldest elder as a family heirloom. Above all share your personal
gratitude and love in small but meaningful ways for all we have is
Thinking about becoming the next family historian?
Go to http://genealogy.fimark.net to get started.
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Editor/Author - Mark Askew