Friday, July 9, 2010

Family Tracks and Traces

For many years now, I've been fascinated with family history. At first, like most people, I started with simple names and dates, marriages and children, birth places and final resting places. The facts piled up high and deep, but it felt like something was missing.

I started trying to find photos of these people from our past, so I could put faces with the names. Again I was reasonably successful, but the sense of emptiness was still there.

Then it came to me: facts and figures, dates and geography give a framework, but it is the stories that make people from the past come alive again. So I've started collecting family stories, stories that help illustrate who our ancestors were, what motivated them, why they acted like they did. Ultimately, I guess, I'm looking for both the universal story common to all families and the unique story that makes our family different from all others.

We are each individual, but our family culture starts shaping us the minute we are born. We are each individual, but our shared genetics give us certain shared gifts and challenges. The dominance of nature compared to nurture (or nurture compared to nature) has always been hard to tease out, simply because the two work hand-in-hand...and always have. I hope that these stories will show how our ancestors coped with life's uncertainties and opportunities, given their chance combination of genetics and family culture. Perhaps, along the way, these stories will give us a little understanding and guidance, as well as a sense of connection across space and time.

A few notes...

Typical of genealogical work, I will not intentionally provide full names or dates associated with living individuals. If you feel I've somehow violated this, please comment and let me know. If I have accidentally erred in this way, I will edit to remove such information as soon as possible. It is certainly not my intention to compromise folks in any way.

One of my reasons for beginning this blog is to find "alternate versions of reality." It's common in families to have events remembered in different ways by different people. Please, if you recognize a story but have heard a different version, comment and share your version. Pass along the link to this blog to other family members, too, if you feel they would be interested. To paraphrase an old saying, many heads are much better than one!

If one of my stories prompts memories of another family incident, I'm really hoping you'll share it! That would be the best of all possible worlds.

I am not going to attempt a precise family tree on this blog, but will simply share stories as I find them. I'm not sure yet how I will be organizing these stories; I'm just feeling almost compelled to share what I've found so far. Where I can do so without making things too complicated, I will share my sources. Again, if you want to know more, please just ask. I'm trusting that an organizational scheme will develop as I begin work.

Enough background and introductory stuff! On to the stories!


  1. I love this idea for a blog Mama! Thank you for taking on the project. I look forward to reading the stories to decide to post. My only question is are you going to be doing both sides of the family?

  2. Definitely I'm going to be working on both sides of the family. My plan is to visit all the branches of it where I can reasonably work in story format.

  3. How old were Everdine and Garry when they embarked on their adventure??