- Family and Parenting
In Pursuit of New Discoveries - the Genealogist never tires
The Appetite for Genealogy
The Appetite of the Genealogist is not easily satisfied. This is particularly true when one is reasearching their own family history. Once the bug has bitten, the amateur genealogist will scour the Internet for information about his past in the same way a ravenous lion will tear apart a fresh-killed carcass on the Serengeti Plain. Too dramatic, you say? Maybe, but we all know that this analogy is not far off the mark. Genealogy is one hobby that can easily turn into an obsession.
Clues will be followed, no stone will be left unturned, no link left un-clicked! In the pursiut of my own family history, I devoured the information as fast as it could be presented. Often, my head would be swimming with the names, dates and places of the past. My brain was on some kind of overload. There was so much data that I could barely keep the information straight; in fact, sometimes I couldn't keep it straight at all.
When I first dove into this family history quest, I was not unlike that ravenous lion. I found myself searching the web with a vengeance and plowing through data in a furious frenzy. There were multiple search options, checking every website that was a maybe, seeking out county histories that just might have a mention, searching countless census records for a family, sifting through the genealogy sites of others for a connection, zooming in on old maps in the hope of seeing a name and so on and so on and so on it went.
The Family History Search Goes On
The research was a drug and I liked the high but at some point, things must slow down . . . they do slowdown. The well will run dry, information will be harder to come by and the easy stuff will all be found. This does not mean that everything that could be uncovered, has been. It just meant that the “easy” stuff has all been found. The truth is that there is still a vast treasure-trove of information out there, waiting. To go further in the search would require moving beyond the Internet, connecting with other researchers, finding distant family members and looking for information in the real world (somewhere, in boxes on shelves, in a building). That is the “old-fashioned” way of researching your family and it is much harder (or at least a great deal more time consuming).
On the other hand, you might just want to slow down a bit and let the information come to you. New information arrives on the web daily and if you wait long enough, more about your family will almost certainly turn-up. When information becomes more fleeting, it might signal an opportunity to get organized and better acquainted with what you have already found. I did that and soon became an expert on my owner database. This was very helpful when the search resumed in earnest.
I did slow down a bit but also explored those other avenues. I would find a wealth of new information by connecting with cousins. Some of them were actively researching their family and others had some valuable documents that I could borrow. I also did some of that old-fashioned research and ended up at a small town historical society. There I would find some great information. Touring cemeteries, seeking out the graves of many from my past was also something I pursued.
That was fun and exciting but what really gets me going is when I stumble across new information unexpectedly. After searching on-line for a number of years and finding most everything there is to find, expectations become tempered and you learn that most of the time the search will come up empty. It is at precisely those times when a new find becomes truly exciting.
At Last, A New Discovery
When you do find one of those new discoveries, they are truly delightful. I have had more then a few of these discovery moments. Here is just one example. In the August of 2009, a book was published by a History Professor in Connecticut. It is called "The Brittle Thread of Life" by Mark Williams. The first half of the book is about a place in Connecticut where four generations of one line of my colonial family lived. It’s a great read (for me) and talks, in some detail, about some of those ancestors and their circumstances. No amount of on-line or old fashioned research could have lead me to this book until after 2009. It simply did not exist prior to that time.
When it comes to Genealogy, each new discovery is a good as the one before. I never tire of them and look forward with anticipation to the next one. If you have the time and resources to go out and physically find data, I would encourage you to do that. It is fun way to dig up information on your past and it might be the only way to find certain bits of data. But if that is not an option, I say, take heart and keep plugging away on-line. New discoveries will come and when they do, it will be just as rewarding as the day your journey began . . .
. . . and that is what makes every new discovery so delightful.