I’ve researched my family’s genealogy for over thirty years. A lot has changed in that time and a lot has not. But this is not one of those mundane posts about how technology has enhanced our access to records while requiring us to become even more devoted to responsible research methodology than ever before.
It’s about how the research has changed me and how parts of my research have changed.
I’m still interested in obtaining as many relevant details about long-deceased relatives as I can. I still want each verbal portrait of an ancestor or relative to be as complete as possible. Years ago it was the puzzle that was the key element that motivated me–trying to fit the pieces of information together into a coherent pattern was a challenge that kept me occupied. The problem with genealogical puzzles is that putting them together is much like platting out metes and bounds deeds with properties surveyed over fifty years. The pieces weren’t cut with the same jigsaw. The edges of all the pieces of data don’t always fit together nicely as the providers of the data have different perspectives and memories.
But I’ve aged. Family members have died and my place in the chronology of my family has changed. So has my sole interest in the genealogical puzzle. Those questions still interest me, but the challenge for me now is to also retain some connection with the past as more physical reminders of my past fade away, either literally or figuratively.
Sometimes researching the past helps us keep our connection to it. Not because we want to live in the past or have some overly nostalgic view of it, but simply because we just don’t want lose our connection to the past as we get closer to being the past ourselves.
Or maybe I’m just getting older.