A sincere thanks to all who have reached out to me about Tinsel. She is doing pretty well, probably better than me. In the two weeks since I learned of her diagnosis, I have struggled a lot. I really appreciate all of your kind words and prayers!
A few weeks ago, I shared that I was starting work on a family heritage album series. I'm happy to report that the first album is coming along well. Thank goodness for my grandma's genealogy binders which have been the saving grace! If not for her painstakingly accurate names and dates, I would be in a state of confusion!
I'm starting with my paternal grandfather's side of the family with a goal of putting together an album series with photos, memorabilia, and an accurate family tree. To verify my grandma's work and gather additional information, I joined Ancestry.com. WHAT AN AMAZING TOOL! Through Ancestry, I've even been able to take Grandma's research back a generation...and I'm just getting started!
Through Ancestry, you build a family tree by sourcing and checking information about relatives. Each time you add a person to your tree, hints about that person are provided to you for verification. The hints may point you to primary sources such as birth records or census documents or other people's family trees. I've found that you have to be very careful in verifying data because there are lots of misspellings and date discrepancies to work through.
You can display your working tree in a "pedigree" format, showing your direct lineage. Or you can display it in a more traditional "tree" format which shows siblings to those in your direct lineage. I will eventually print trees of both formats to include in my album. (Sorry for these very bad photos of my desktop computer screen, but you'll get the idea!)
As you add details to each person, Ancestry compiles a story line which helps to flesh out his or her life. You can add in historical events which help put your family members' lives in context.
I've found that you have to be a detective when doing this kind of work. For example, my great great grandmother's maiden name appeared with five different spellings and I didn't know for sure which was correct until I found the grave of one of her male siblings! After coming to live in the United States, it seems that her French family name must have been difficult for Americans to spell. Correct spellings and dates are essential to ensure that you're researching the right person!
Grave stones are really helpful for verifying spellings and dates. Ancestry links you to cemetery information and, if you're lucky, someone has even taken a picture of the stone.
For the album itself, I'm starting with the oldest photos and memorabilia. I'll eventually have a section and tree for each part of the family. I want this album to make sense to whoever is reading it!
I've added formal family portraits and...
...I've also included some snapshots. On this particular page, I included a photo of notes from my great grandma's Bible. This was a completely accidental find! As I was working on the album, I remembered that my grandma had given me a very old family Bible but couldn't recall who it belonged to. When I opened the Bible, I saw that it belonged to my great grandma, the very person I was researching, and that she had made some notes in the back about her parents who were both born in Germany. So now that I understand the family lineage, this family heirloom is even more special to me!
I'll eventually turn my attention to the other side of dad's family, but that may end up being a separate album.
I'm happy with the progress I've made so far on this big project! The research component is interesting to me. But even more importantly, this project is helping me feel connected to family I never had the opportunity to know. Stay tuned for more progress updates!