Connections. Making connections with other people is part of our human DNA. Whether you are working on a project, living in a neighborhood or researching family, our day-to-day interactions create community and ties.
I was reminded of this in recent weeks as I connected with genealogy cousins. Let’s talk about the benefits of those connections when writing your family history.
Each week I continue to pester you to write down your family story and capture your family history so that you can share the information with your extended family. And, it is my belief that none of us have personally discovered every single fact about our ancestors on our own. Instead, we have received genealogy kindnesses from others who have shared pictures, information and stories about our family. As older relatives, close family, extended family and even strangers start to sort and downsize, they look to share with those “keepers of family history”. Fellow genealogists may have completed extensive family history research and now are ready to share that date with extended family. Or maybe someone is just getting started with their research but come from a branch of the family that others know little about.
When you first started to research you may have captured the name of your great-grandmother’s sister but didn’t pay any attention to other details about her. Afterall you were focused on gathering those names to take you further back in your direct family line. The longer you do research the more you realize that there is more information to discover and in order to do this, you need to start looking at your ancestor’s extended family. What if her descendants hold the key to pictures and information that you have not been able to find researching your direct line?
How can we make those connections? Message boards, published family trees, DNA matches and paid and free sites help us to connect with those beyond our immediate family. Perhaps you’ve identified someone as a “DNA match” and can share information that you have with them to help complete their tree. As recent connection with my third cousin resulted in sharing of family photos. By comparing our pictures and sharing our knowledge, we were able to identify people for each other. It was great fun to identify a mystery lady who was important to my G-Grandmother. This lady was the direct ancestor of my cousin and helped raise my G-Grandmother. There was no one left in my family who would have been able to identify her. On the flipside, he knew little about his 3-G grandmother's ancestors which I was able to share with him. Priceless.
The online definition of connections is “people with whom one has social or professional contact or to whom one is related, especially those with influence and able to offer one help.” As we make connections with others, try to be the person who willingly shares with fellow researchers. There’s nothing as discouraging when you have shared well-researched information and then wait to hear back…nothing…but…crickets. Don’t be the person who happily takes the information and runs without sharing or aiding others! Be kind and try to help each other out.
Links to explore possible family connections. These are a few sites to get you started. Who knows, you may find a famous relative like George Clooney or Tom Hanks on the Famous Kin site.
Ancestry Message Boards
My Heritage Forum
Family Tree Forum
Your challenge this week is to look at your research and unidentified pictures. Think about how you could discover more information from a distant relative or connection. As the keeper of history, you have probably acquired many pictures of extended family. Now would be a good time to scan those photos and give the originals to the direct descendants who share an interest in family history. Afterall, wouldn’t you be thrilled to see your Great Grandpa in a picture you never knew existed?
Throughout the years you probably have, like me, be on the receiving end of many genealogical kindnesses. As your research grows and expands, you may be the one with more information to share. I’m always excited when I find a tidbit to share with someone who has helped me in the past. Good luck connecting!
“The most important things in life are the connections you make with others.”
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.