Like a scrapbook, but one with manners


I have a very large family tree. Not large in the sense that it is full of names and dates but physically large. Bulky, hefty, sizeable – unwieldy in fact. I often take it out and carefully unfold it, but despite my care the little notes I have written in the folds are slowly disappearing. I like that it’s in a paper format and that I can put it on the floor and have a good read of it. It’s not easy to store though, and I am afraid that a fire, house move or something else will damage it beyond repair.


I read online recently about a genealogist in the US who was promoting the idea of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. In other words, each week you would be prompted to sit for a few minutes and write about one of your ancestors. Over the course of a year many of your ancestors’ stories would have taken shape, gotten a second wind, if you like.


So, to put some manners on all the pages and pages of research I have collected about my ancestors over the years, I have decided to devote a page for each one on my tree. Some I know more about than others, so I am also going to add a section on what I should do next, what other sources might be available.


All of this I am putting into a notebook that I can easily carry around if I want, and all will be written in the same style and format so it’s easy to review. It doesn’t really matter where I start or who I start with – this is for me and will go to whoever wants it when I die, a reservoir of information about the family.


Using it, I can get a handle on what I know and what’s still unknown. I think it will be useful too, in that I can add notes about sources and cite conversations. It will recognise the importance of facts from actual records but also the need to record family oral history. Even if these stories have become skewed over time, there might be a small piece of important information there that should be written down.

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