Research Your Family’s History – Tuesday Tip – April 3, 2018

Genealogy—researching and recording your family’s history—is a pastime ideally suited for retirement, rich in learning, creativity, and purpose.  If you like history, want to challenge your computer and skills, and are interested in creating something of value for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, genealogy may be just what you’re looking for.

The internet has put rich reservoirs of genealogical information at our fingertips.  Fee-based platforms like ancestry.com make it easy, perhaps too easy, to build a family tree.  The site will give you “ancestry hints” when its algorithm’s determine it may have information about an individual you’ve added to your tree, but these aren’t always reliable since it may have come from another subscriber with inaccurate information.  That’s why, if you get serious about genealogical research, you’ll want to learn about and adhere to the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Going Beyond the “Who” and “What” to “How” and “Why” of Family History

Building a family tree, with dates and locations of birth, dates of marriage, and dates of death, is only the start.  That work might answer the “who” and “what” questions, but the real fun is trying to puzzle out the “how” and “why” of your family’s history.  Why did your great-grandmother leave Italy for America, while her sisters and brothers stayed behind? I’m a genealogical beginner, but I already have one or two questions it might take me years to figure out.  My great-grandfather came to the United States from Colombia in the 1890s to work in New York City as a coffee importer and, somehow, met and married the daughter of a silk factory owner in Paterson, New Jersey.  How on earth did they even meet?

Genealogy Can Teach You About The Full Range of Human Experience

If your research helps you answer questions like mine, you’ll be able to write powerful stories your descendants will thank you for.  Every family has heroes and villains, secret and surprises, and if you can uncover and describe them, you’ll convey important lessons to your family about resiliency, the possibility of fresh starts, lies and love—in short, the full range of the human experience.

(More Tuesday Tips here.)  

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