This weekend we (my roomie and I) set up an appointment for our satellite provider to service our box. The young man that came to our home was from a neighboring town. In addition to the new box - which took some time to hook up - he also had to update the software on it. We talked for a little bit, and the conversation topic quickly turned to family history. He asked this simple question: how do you start doing family history? My answer: you start with yourself and you go from there.
I love talking about family history, and I am as interested in other people's history as I am my own. He said that he had grown up in a household with his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. He even had memories of his great-great grandmother! Immediately I asked him two questions: were these woman still alive and if he was a father. He said that his grandparents had been instrumental in raising him and his siblings. This man's stories were, quite frankly, AMAZING! His grandfather had been in Vietnam, his father was from Guatemala...he grew up hearing the histories of the members of his family - some of whom had been riders with Pancho Villa in the early 1900s.
We sat open mouthed, listening to his stories - the repetition of oral histories and traditions in the living room of our home. And then we did the next thing that we could do (and quite frankly, I fell like if we were part of some kind of obsessive religion we might be a scary converting force) we started talking about our own histories.
I have done recordings in my own family (and in the families of my friends) with grandparents just before their last moments, and they are some of the most precious items that we possess because it is through these videos and interviews that an individual can continue to tell their own stories - with their own voices - to the next generation. The longer that we talked to him, the more we stressed the importance (and the simplicity) of interviewing family members. We told him about great-grandparents that had ridden with Billy the Kid, who had invented machines, who had driven ambulances during World War I, and who had fought during World War II. We told him that now was the time to either have his parents and grandparents write down their members (because their handwriting is just as precious as their spoken words) or record them.
By the end of the appointment time, he left. He was happy to have shared his own history with us (and we were equally as happy to share our own history with him). It made me realize the desire to pass on oral traditions that our parents or grandparents or great-grandparents ingrained within us are not limited to our families. It seems that the people that I come in contact with constantly share (and keep alive) oral traditions. It always amazes me how family history continues to engulf vario
I love family history and the various ways that it can be approached by researchers! I hope that this blog is interesting and inspiring!