Monday, October 15, 2007

Genealogy -- History at its Best

There are few things I enjoy more than sitting at an outdated computer in the basement of a library. I enjoy it even though the room is full of noisy people doing anything from studying to playing games. Why? Fascinating discoveries can be made in that little room.

I am a genealogist, and that means I look at history in a unique and personal way. Where were my ancestors during the colonial era, the 1850s or the World Wars? A lot of this information is now available online in the form of census records, draft registration cards, and other documents; of course, everything has its price.

That is where my local library helps out. I was amazed when I found that our library subscribes to the leading genealogy sources on the web. My face flushed with excitement when my first census record flashed on the screen – with my ancestor’s name on it!

Since those exciting first days I have learned many things about my family: where we came from, where we lived, what their occupations were, and how many children they had. I even discovered that there have been no idiots in my family line (thankfully, that box on the census was left unchecked).

The best day for a genealogist comes when a “new” ancestor can be positively identified. Solid documentation can link meaningless names to the family tree of men and women that make up the roots of my history, culture, and genetic makeup. That is the moment I relish.

My most exhilarating find was the day I followed clues left more than a century ago on the handwritten census records to discover the names, occupations, and nationality of two ancestors I had little hope of finding. Their son was William Moore, and I wasn’t sure there was any name more common than that – that is, until I found his father’s name: John Moore.

Of course, names and dates tell nothing about the personality of my predecessors. Who were the people whose names appear on my charts? What were their personalities, and what did they care about? Unfortunately, personal information like this is much harder to find than a simple name or birth date. In many cases it is impossible to go back further than your parents or grandparents. But that only makes information about my family’s personality and character all the more treasured.

Over the past few months I have used precious blogging time (that is the excuse part of the post) to work on several family projects that I will write more about later. It has been a joy to learn more about my family as I prepare the information to share with my parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. There is more to come!

2 comments:

Wholesome Works said...

Elizabeth,

I like to read what you have found out about your family, especially since I haven't been able of trace my own family's genealogy very far.

I'm looking forward to your next posts.

Zachary

Becc@ said...

Thanks for posting, Elizabeth! I'm really glad to see you back! I hope to see more of you in the near future! (I've missed you! :))

I understand you being busy, though!