In this last entry of the “October is Family History Month” series we focus on you, the researcher and preserver of family history. The lone family historian who often is the only one in the family who gets a thrill out of finding lost relatives. It can be a lonely pursuit, but oh, how rewarding!
It’s great to have people to share your genealogy with. Sharing it makes your heritage come to life. It’s even more gratifying if those you are sharing it with are your children. The passing down of traditions from one generation to another is timeless. Unfortunately, that connection doesn’t always exist.
Let’s face it, most of the time you are doing this for yourself. That’s not such a bad thing. Have you ever felt that tingle down your spine because you found your great grandparents in the census? Maybe you’ve been found murmuring certain phrases like “Oh my God, it’s her! It’s her!” while sitting at a microfilm reader. Perhaps you like to sit marvelling at the faces in your old photographs. You might even like pulling out all your genealogical data so you can read those facts again. Each time you do this, you realize that each person lived a life much like your own. They lived through daily struggles, tragedies, and happy events just like you. It’s humbling to know that you are a mere piece in a gigantic puzzle that fits together in the shape of your family.
This time our projects focus on ways to find simple pleasure in the pursuit of family history.
1. Open that old box of letters. Spend an afternoon by yourself reading the letters your relatives have sent you over the years.
2. Telephone an elderly relative who you haven’t spoken to for awhile. Use this time to straighten out some family facts or to learn more about the times your relative grew up in.
3. Find a book based on your heritage and set aside time to read it! There are books on the Portuguese as well as general genealogy and history topics that will deepen your understanding of your people.
4. Organize your research. If this is something that you’ve put aside, now’s the time to get moving. It’s important to keep your research organized. It’s also important to review your research from time to time. You often find things you didn’t see the first time.
5. Buy a poster size pedigree chart. Fill in your family information and hang the chart where you can refer to it. It’s fun to see how much work you’ve completed. It also makes it easier to see what work needs to be done.
6. See how your ancestor fits into history. Create a ancestor timeline. Include events in your ancestor’s life as well as historical and local events. This can be very rewarding as you can map out your ancestor’s life in timeline form.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com