Last Friday my beloved and I attended a class on researching family history put on at our church. It was very well done. That training sesson has opened up a whole new avenue of interest for me.
I've worked at compiling genalogy research on and off over the years. At one point back in Kalamazoo, Michigan (1990's) I worked as a volunteer in a family history library. After we moved to Washington I continued to do research on my own family, and also put together extensive notebooks on my husband's lineage. When we left Washington in 2002 I packed all my records up and put it away,not touching it at all for quite a long time. A couple years ago I started back at it again, shifting a lot of my old print records to digital. I put up a blog about my efforts in doing family history work that I called "Spirit of Elijah".
|My Grandmother, Florence Kurtz, attended Alhambra School in Phoenix, AZ in 1916. This is a photo of the full student body. Florence is in the front row sort of in the middle.|
So doing this stuff is not new to me. However, it feels like everything about doing genealogy has changed for two reasons: first, the information available now via sites like Ancestry.com is nothing short of amazing. With just a few clicks of a mouse I can see census records, old city directories, miliatary records - you name it. In many cases I can get digital photos of the origianl record. Other times I get just the typed information. But either way - this is hugely different than the old days of writing query letters to research librarians all across the country, travelling to cemeteries and court houses or cranking old microfilm machines. Using Ancestr.com I've found wonderful load of information in days that would have taken me months or even years to track down in the past. I've even found wonderful old photos of some of my ancestors that I'd never seen before.
But the biggest thing that has changed doing genealogy for me is that this is the first time ever my husband has joined me in the effort. It has always been my hobby that he was supportive of but not all that interested in, even when it was his family I was researching.
Edward Bennett Sr. served in the "Black Hawk Indian War" 1866-1867. He is pictured here with a group of veterans and some of their wives - photo probably taken in the early 1900's.
(Edward is man laying down in front on far left)
The class we went to last Friday has somehow changed that. For the first time ever, my sweet husband seems genuinely interested in the process of looking for information and in reading the records that we already have. It has been a blast to share this with him as we both dig together through my old notebooks to see what we can learn about our various family groups.
I don't know how far we will take this pursuit. I know from my own past track record that I have a long history of going hot and cold with genealogy research. Eventually I'm sure we'll pack it all up again and may not look at any of it again for quite some time. But for now, I am savoring this season of sharing this mutual interest with my man. It has brought so much sweetness to us as we marvel together at the stories of people like Nathaniel the shoemaker who lived in Navoo or Eliza Ann Stevens and Nancy Marie Badger, strong Utah pioneer women who raised granddaughters after their own daughters died young.
Doing all this genealogy is wreaking havoc with my sleep patterns - spinning me back into erratic nocturnal wakefulness that leaves me groggy and drained come morning when I need to get up and get ready for work. But I love doing it. For now, it's a blessing that brings me much joy.