Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Done, half done or not yet even warmed up

I recently posted about those who claim that their "genealogy" is "done." So I thought I would carry that a bit further and discuss what it might mean to "finish" your genealogical research. Is there any point at which the work is done? I am fairly certain that all those who claim completion have never really analyzed what that sort of claim might entail.

If we look at the amount of biographical material available for some individuals and compare that vast amount of information with a terse entry such as "John Jones, b. 1850, d.1890," I think you can see where this post is going. Yes, I really am advocating a biographical approach to our ancestors. There has been some really significant movements of late towards the idea of fleshing out the sparse genealogical entries with stories and photos. Taking that one step further, it would also be helpful to tie all of those together into a coherent life story. Family Tree just very recently added a "Life Sketch" section to each individual. Of course, if the individual died as an infant, there may not be a lot of information, but the existence of the Life Sketch and other provisions in other programs, gives us the opportunity of adding in significant events and details to each of our ancestors' lives.

So what can be considered done in the context of adding stories and photos and perhaps a complete biography of every ancestor? In the past, biographies were the purview of only the rich and famous. How more egalitarian can you get than to provide a detailed account of your ordinary ancestors. Each person has lived an interesting and unique life that deserves to be preserved. So get busy and get writing. Let's not just preserve a story or two, but give a serious treatment to each ancestor's entire life.

Within hours of the appearance of the Life Sketch section in Family Tree, some of my relatives had already added rather extensive summaries of a few of my own ancestors. I think the option of adding the information will give us all a wonderful window into the history of our families. I have only one suggestion, please start with yourself and do not go back and start with Adam.

1 comment:

  1. "I really am advocating a biographical approach to our ancestors"
    I agree.

    However, it would have been helpful if FamilySearch FamilyTree had the ability to add notes against individual events, just like... what's that old fashioned thing? Oh yes, GEDCOM compatible files. Instead, the new notes can be added to "an individual ancestor, a couple relationships, and a parent-child relationship" but "You cannot enter notes about a specific piece of information about a person (such as a specific birth, marriage, or death event)." That's rather a shame - I delight in adding notes against my events - such as recording that someone was one of 48 late baptisms in the little church that day, so suggesting a local curate was enthusiastically claiming unbaptised children and adults for Christ. Or recording the names of the witnesses of a wedding...

    Is it too much to expect FS to take inspiration from its own products? Another reason for not choosing FS FT as a permanent record of my data... Sigh.

    Quotes from FamilySearch Blog "Latest Updates to Family Tree—October 21, 2013", dated October 18, 2013 By Lynne L. VanWagenen.