I Wear Tight Genes

Wherein I attempt to relate the trials and tribulations of tracking down information on people who are dead, but bear some resemblance to me...when they were alive.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Back to Blogging?

Yea, it's been a while. Looks like I haven't really updated since September of last year. We went through some pretty tough times with the family, and I think that's what probably kept me away.

However, during that time I haven't stopped updating the family tree site. We're up to over 18,000 names, so far. I've been in contact with numerous relatives, near and far, and the site's finally picked up a momentum of its own. Not a day goes by that I don't get an email from someone about a posting I've made or a page they've found in a search. The Internet as a genealogist's tool is a real revolution in the field.

I look back at the research my grandfathers did, and I sit back in total amazement. The amount of time they spent in the last years of their lives talking to people on the phone, tracking down and paying for private research, reading old dusty tomes in libraries and city centers...it all seems so much work compared to what I do. But the rewards are phenomenal in comparison.

My father's father spent most of his time traveling to the places where he knew we had ancestors and interviewing the people there. He rarely wrote anything that he found down, preferring instead to follow the trail and catalog everything in his head. He wrote some letters and contacted some other researchers, but the majority of his work died with him (or, really, vanished with the onset of his first major stroke). It wasn't until his brother picked up his research, years later, that the trails he'd blazed were set down for later generations. Additionally, my great-uncle's work sat in a dusty filing cabinet in my cousin's basement for another decade before I started transcribing them online.

My mother's father used his family memories to start a preliminary tree, and then worked downwards to the present. He'd collected a list of 400+ individuals all descendant from one Norwegian immigrant. He spent most of his time contacting people by phone, but that's as far back as he went. Little did he know that over a decade after he died that Norway would index three hundred years of church records and censuses and put them online for free. A simple search turned up our earliest immigrant ancestor, and suddenly I had a line of Norwegians stretching back to the 1600s.

It boggles the mind to now understand how many people I may have met in my life, and never known how closely we were related.


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