Sunday, July 24, 2011
First of all I'd like to welcome any newcomers to my blog. I would like to tell you why/how I started genealogy and show you the information I request when starting work for a client.
As a child, my mother was always involved in this thing called "genealogy". I knew what the word meant, but really thought that she was a little "crazy" for spending hours transcribing cemeteries, cutting out obituaries, going to the LDS library and reading microfilm, etc. My brother and I would just roll our eyes and dad patiently took her on little trips to "research".
I grew up very close to my paternal grandparents, but never knowing my maternal grandparents as they had already passed away. Any maternal relatives lived hundreds of miles away and we visited them on train trips a few times during my childhood.
As I went about my life, my family grew smaller and smaller very gradually until my paternal grandmother passed away at the ripe old age of nearly 107. I hadn't really experienced much death and I was already in my forties. I had since become interested in scrapbooking, but realized that I had very few photos of my extended family and began to think of those grandparents that I never knew. As a matter of fact, I had never even seen a photo of my maternal grandmother. I began wondering if I looked or acted like her. I knew that I looked like a clone of my mother. I began wondering what my mother's childhood had been like, and how she grew up. I wanted to make a photo album for each of my grandparents and their lives. I asked a scrapbooking expert how I could make a scrapbook album for my maternal grandmother or other ancestors when I didn't even have photos, or know anything about them. The expert suggested that I write a letter to my grandmother, ask her questions, etc., and scrapbook that. As I contemplated doing this, my curiosity got the better of me and I prayed to God that I would be sent a photo of my grandmother so I could just see her.
Now I knew God wouldn't just email me a photo and so I started to ask cousins, looked for more distant cousins and family to see if they had photos. Soon I had to start family group sheets to keep them straight, search for addresses and phone numbers online. In a very short time I started to have more and more "cousins" and my family grew. Before I knew it, I was infected by the genealogy bug. As the disease grew, and I searched, I began sharing what I had learned and doing RAOGK (random acts of genealogy kindness). People had helped me and I wanted to pay it forward.
Two years ago I was in a bad car accident. I became disabled and found the time to look at my life and ask God what he wanted me to do with it. I feel that I have been given a gift to connect people with their loved ones, and their heritage. I have decided to try and make this not only a hobby, but my life's work. People always say, "find what you love and do it", and that's my story.
I've helped friends and strangers. I've recently started a website which is at the top of my blog. I still do RAOGK and free work for benefits and referrals, or just for fun, but I also need to make a living like everyone else. So far God has provided me with "enough", but as that old joke goes, if God sends you a boat as your floating out in the middle of a lake with out a paddle, you better grab on for your life.
As a side note, I'd like to advise you all to write down those little gems your family tell you, even if you think they're insignificant or that "you will always remember". I wish I would have picked up a pen and journal years ago. Start asking questions....do you know your dad's favorite color, or what was his favorite Christmas present? What does your mother remember about her grandparents. Are you sure you know where she was born? Do you know who is in their old photographs that have been hidden away for years, or maybe they've been hanging on the wall and "just always been there".
I am posting my initial questionnaire for starting work for a client. Maybe it will help you get started. There are free genealogy forms on the net (if you can't find them, contact me). There are also some ideas and techniques for interviewing your family to get started.
Just one warning though....you may become "infected"!!