This challenge was a challenge. It wasn’t easy to pick just one. I crossed off the Amelia Earheart model (I’m not afraid of learning the sad details of my ancestors’ lives) and the Cinderella model (I have learned to keep a healthy dose of skepticism handy whenever hearing family stories).
I have a little bit of Ambrose Monk in me. I have documents and photographs on everybody (well, almost everybody). I’ve got enough binders to fill the local library ;). It could take awhile for someone to figure out how my binders work, but I don’t think it would be difficult. I think they might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them though.
I think I am closer to the Francis Monk model. I commented recently that because of online collections I have become a collector of data and not necessarily an assessor of collected data. I may have thousands of documents on my computer on my lines, my associated lines, my sister-in-law’s family, and my brother-in-law’s family. The folders and files are an utter and complete mess. But, I am not going to say they are untamable. I have been working all year on getting the data input and properly filed. And, I think I may actually win this battle.
Extra Credit…making up my own model. I tried to think of someone who might exemplify my style of genealogy. I have narrowed it down to two people. Oprah Winfrey and Jane Goodall.
The Oprah Winfrey model is a genealogist congomerate. She devours data left and right. When she has bought up all the data for one side of her family, she works on the other. If those lead to dead ends, she’ll work on the neighbors tree and possibly the postal carriers. She is involved in various projects (organizing her digital files, researching for the Korean War MIA Project, working on her own project to document the Portuguese people of Kauai, writing for her blog, networking online with other genealogist, and setting up special pages on Squidoo). Her genealogy empire keeps expanding. Family data spreads through 25 binders. And, that doesn’t count the ones who aren’t related. She helps others where she can, whether it’s aiding them in researching or providing ideas for how to research. Genealogy will never be boring for her because she will always find a new outlet even if her own lines dry up.
The Jane Goodall model has researched the whole group of chimpanzees, I mean ancestors, in an area. She isn’t satisfied knowing about her relatives who came from the Azores to Kilauea, Kauai. She has studied all the Portuguese families in Kauai. She knows them by name and sometimes by photograph. She knows which families intermarried. She followed them to Oakland,Spreckels, King City, and Stockton, California. She knows what’s normal for this group of people, what jobs they held occupations, what diseases affected then, and their rituals. She can identify her “clan” by the way they named their children. They are her own special group of Portuguese Hawaiians. And, she can talk about them as if she knew them–even though she only met a handful. She could have easily left all the other Portuguese of the Kilauea Sugar Plantation alone, but she got involved with all their lives and found them more intriguing as a group. She has spent many years deeply entrenched with this group. While she doesn’t have the longest family tree, she has deep own filled with details that form their individual and collective stories. (This probably could have fit the Margaret Mead model, but I found Jane Goodall a better match since she lived with her subjects, studied them, and saw each as individuals as well as part of the clan.)
Thanks to both Randy and Bart for this assignment!
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com