Today, I was contemplating the purpose for my genealogy research. What do I really intend to accomplish and how will I accomplish it? The realization of the complexity of tracing just my maternal ancestors is a very rude awakening. Imagine what it will be like when I decide to do my paternal research!
Very simply put, I have several goals I would like to accomplish in my research. Of course, I would love to be able to go back as far as possible. I ran across a website the other day that said they had traced their ancestors back 155 generations, all the way to Adam & Eve! I doubt that I will ever get that far! I have hit my first real stumbling block around 1726 so I still have a long ways to go! Think about it, is the goal of genealogy all about how far back you can go? Some folks are content with that. I am not.
My main goal in my genealogy research is to make sure that I have documented proof of all my kinships and that I somehow bring that person to life so everyone can see how they were. What good is a book with a bunch of names and dates? Do you sit down, pick up the phone book and think that it is some great reading? Of course not! Yes, I want to make it all the way back to Adam & Eve but I want to do so one person at a time, making sure that you KNOW that person before you move on.
So how do I accomplish the task of bringing someone to life? Well, in some cases you can ask a loved one to do a biography on someone who has passed within the last, say, 20 years. Further back than that you can check newspaper records, local histories, or even try to locate old diaries. I have a Civil War diary (a copy) from my 2nd-great-grandfather’s brother, Herrick Forbes. Some of it is boring but some of it is really neat to read and it lets you get some insight into just what that person was thinking and how he lived!
One other goal I would like to accomplish is to bring my current, living generation together. It is surprising how little we know about our living relatives. When you get to know them you are amazed at who you are related to! It is really satisfying when you can see someone meet someone they have never met and just be able to bond with that person so quickly. Why not? They are family! I am so glad that it is no longer “my four and no more” but it is a great big family full of cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews that I never even knew I had!
Last but not least, I want to leave a legacy for the next generation. I want to be able to pass down a study of our ancestors in such a way that they can enjoy it and perhaps build upon it. I don’t want to just give names and dates. I want to give them all the documentation I can, all the study that I can and let them know just who it is that I have found in my research. Perhaps in my thoroughness they will find enough to make them excited and entice them to continue what I couldn’t finish!
What do you wish to accomplish with your research? Perhaps it is time to sit back and think about it!