Illumine The Family Tree With Your Journals

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When it comes to eHampton Roadsoyable pursuits, successfully creating a family tree is far more achievable (and pleasant!) than it was a decade ago due to the myriad genealogical tools available.  This is not to say that determining one’s ancestry is easy, especially if members of the family who have gone before left only little specific information about their ancestors.

Family Tree LightsAs a potential help to future generations one idea with merit might be to begin a family tree journal.  Given the amount of effort genealogy buffs tend to put into the creation of a family tree, it could well behoove living members of the family line to leave out some candles as it were for those coming next.  One fun and effective way of doing this is to create a journal about members of your family tree.

Some family tree investigation is as simple as opening that timeworn family Bible to the section in the front where many historical families were wont to record births, baptisms, marriages and deaths.  A little time capsule like this can often help illuminate the family tree but without these tea lights along the way, family line researchers can run up against frustrating ancestral darkness.

How often family tree builders have wished they could resurrect their ancestors for just long enough to ask a few pertinent questions about a family line member currently couched in history mystery.  Spilt milk aside, the living can plan ahead now to shed light for interested descendants in future family tree endeavors by telling today’s family tree stories in a family line journal.

It may be too late to get all the desired details from those gone on, but it’s not too late to move future genealogists to the front of the line by writing journals for them now.

Talk to your older family line members.  Ask questions.  Write down the answers in some sort of organized fashion, even if it’s just a spiral notebook.  Don’t just let them answer questions.  Make sure you answer them too.  Always clearly date this material so those reading down the family line will have the information in the context of a timeline.  Just think about the bits of informational treasure you’ve stumbled across yourself in working on your family tree and then leave your own guiding light accordingly.

One might wonder what types of questions to ask the living ancestry.  There are resources galore these days supplying the interviewer with numerous memory aids for use in wonderful genealogical conversations.  Starting with basic family line questions about relatives, places and dates will always be effective, but the main thing is to remember to have a reminder tool on hand when you know you’ll be sitting down to talk to the older set.  You may well be surprised at where these talks can lead you.

Since the conversation is about the family tree, one way to approach it is to start with the trunk and work out to any branches the person may remember:  parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Once you have the names, begin to flesh things out with birth, marriage and death dates.  Then, birth, marriage and death places.  These are the nuts and bolts of family tree work; the fundamentals if you will.  They are also the grist that once fed to the online family tree services will most likely produce clues to more distant family line members and further your family tree structure.

Once this basic family line information is assembled, move on to the “shaking” of the family tree which typically results in the best goodies and ultimately will be what those future family tree buffs will want to know anyway:  the stories.

Here the person you’re talking with may be able to give you some specific firsthand personal memories of their childhood, holidays, their parents or siblings or cousins, traditions, etc.  After all, these details are what allow you to actually get to know the ancestry, the family line members who lived their lives and whose stories, seemingly significant or not, may be slipping into the forgotten.  Having this unique ability to pull a branch of family tree past into the family tree present for others to remember and eHampton Roadsoy can be incredibly gratifying.

Sometimes you may have to do a little convincing to get older folks to open up about certain family tree details.  Things they may have written off as boring or tedious can actually be real treasures for the younger living generations, not to mention those that may come along in the future looking for some family tree puzzle pieces.  Some examples of this might be their memories of where they were and what they were doing when key events took place:  Elections, disasters, wars, accidents, births, marriages, deaths, etc., or even what special details they might have on things like this.

What about their careers or business endeavors?  What do they know about where the forefathers came from or where a certain leg of the family tree originated?  Any family tree claims to fame?  Were there any legendary family line stories passed down that they are willing to share for future generations?

If you are talking with the right person it’s possible to come away from these family tree conversations not only with details you didn’t know, but little or big hints as to who to talk with next or which resource to use to finally chase down that last piece of a family tree puzzle.

Family Tree JournalFamily tree journals can be as extensive or minimal as you care to make them.  It’s really a function of the time and energy and creativity you want to put in to them.  There can certainly be varying motivations for writing them too.  It’s virtually always fun and interesting to learn the family tree information for yourself, but a true sense of purpose usually accompanies when future family line researchers are considered as you do your journaling.  Just think of it as filling a time capsule for your grandchild to discover and thrill over some day way down the road.

Photographic bits that can accompany any family tree journaling efforts are huge.  If you are able to gain access to family tree images, be sure to identify the Who, When and Where of them whenever possible.  Future viewers are sure to experience frustration if all they have is the image itself and have no idea who it’s of or when it was taken, but that it’s probably of some family line significance.

Whereas there is wisdom in speaking first to the older folks in the family and gathering their perspective and stories, never feel limited to them if you have others who are younger but “in the know.”  Ultimately, you are after the family tree data and oral history as it were.  Get it from whoever has it.

It’s not critical to wait until you’ve assembled every single piece of information you will ever acquire to get it systematized.  In fact, if you develop early on an accessible system for storing and retrieving your family line journal you do yourself a favor.  At some point in your family tree journaling process, you’ll want to get it on a computer, whether that means scanning your handwritten pages or keying the stories into a document file.  Your available choices in this regard are myriad, but the sooner you make the choice the sooner you will get the data digitized and the easier it will be to make copies of it available to other family members.

Given the fact that you are probably doing all this work for the benefit of future family members who will be interested in your work, one of the most effective avenues of distribution will be through any of your family still living.  Give each family unit a copy and have them pass it to their descendants for their future family tree education and eHampton Roadsoyment.

Should you be interested in reading further on family tree topics you might like the following:

Singing Your Ancestors

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