In last week’s column, I began the discussion of why do we do genealogy. I received a wealth of replies and I want to share some of the insight from your fellow researchers:
Alice Braddy Davis of Elmendorf, Texas: Why Do We Do This? The question comes up frequently for (I suspect) most of us that are "peculiar" and work on family history. I have friends that sit in front of the computer and play games, go to chat rooms, etc. I wonder what they are accomplishing. What will they have tomorrow to show for hours of sitting at the computer? They don't read history. They don't learn geography. They don't learn about other cultures. They don't meet long lost relatives, cousins, aunts, or uncles. I don't know about everyone else in the "Why Do We Do This" category, but for me, the great joy comes with every new e-mail, picture, or person that can write "cousin" in the closing of a letter.
Gaylon Powell of Austin, Texas: A couple of years a go, I decided to go back to school and I would lay genealogy down so I could devote my time to study. Well, guess what? On the first day of class, I found in my e-mail an answer to a RootsWeb post that I made 18-months earlier and had forgotten about. So much for laying genealogy aside!
Ric Gordon of Taylor, Texas: Before I started all of this I had but a hand full of cousins that my parents and grandparents had told me about. After a few years of research by me, professionals and other cousins, our family reunions would have to be held in the Astro Dome in Houston. They would be coming from all over the United States. I, too, am addicted and, believe it or not, the most fun I've ever had.
Danielle Brown of Broken Arrow, OK: I have given up on genealogy four times since August 2001. Every time, I have been pulled back into it by an e-mail from someone responding to a posting or an e-mail I sent or a letter mailed out that I had forgotten about. Every time I have found second and third cousins. I am totally addicted! I got a phone call late last night from another third cousin whom I managed to get back into genealogy. We are now exchanging copies of newspapers and research ideas and possibly planning a family reunion later this year. What's so funny about meeting him is that his branch of the family lives in about a stone's throw from my branch and we never knew they were there! To All of You: Don't give up hope! Keep on keeping on!
When someone asks for your genealogy information, do you send the person everything you have? If so, you may be overwhelming them and making it harder for you to follow-up.
More importantly, you may be giving all of your material to someone who isn’t really interested in sharing his or her information. Or may share it with others without your knowledge or permission.
Imagine you request information from two different researchers. The first researcher sends you a mountain of print-outs, material, documents, newspapers, etc. Everything you could ever want to know about this family. Your response will probably be that you'll look at all of that stuff later--a later that may never come. Or you’ll scan through it looking for some little bit of information you need.
More importantly, you won’t know what follow-up questions to ask.
The second researcher sends you a short print-out, descendants charts, family group sheets so you can determine which ancestor your are most interested in for your needs. This you can deal with because you're not wading through a pile of paper to find what you need. And the researcher providing the information isn’t wasting time by giving your too much information that may not be applicable to your family tree.
A week or two later, you can go back and request specific and relevant information. You may not be interested in all 5,123 individuals in their family tree database, only the 12 you are related to! You don’t need to see everything the researcher has in their files.
Which is the better contact? The second researcher, they made it easy for you to learn what you needed to know, and you could follow-up after you'd had a chance to consider what they sent.
Keep it simple, and they will always ask for more!
In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.
Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: email@example.com
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P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604