Recently we had a very unexpected death in our family. I opened my data base and went to this relative’s place and opened the notes and realized there were very few. That entire part of my data base was seriously lacking.
To me family research is more than the simple recording of dates and places. It is the “notes” the story telling, the photos, videos, documents, multimedia.
Here is a sample of just a few images, the multimedia of my great grandfather, Charles Gratton Trumbo. His death certficate, a photo of Charles, a photo of the home he raised his children in, his headstone, some receipts dated 1898 (two loads of "bark" and one of "hay") and the home where he was raised.
In the case of this family death, I found I had failed miserably. I did have over 25 multimedia events attached, photos from birth. I had marriages and children recorded. But, there was almost nothing in the “notes” section. I had written a piece or two about this relative on my personal blog, Reflections From the Fence. But, the truth is, I had basically failed in my duties of family researcher and family recorder. Did you hear that long sorrowful sigh?
I have frequently reminded others when they are sharing stories (these kinds of stories show up frequently in the Newsfeed of Facebook), to add them to their data base. It is easy to forget to do that. That little story about your relative, maybe the one about gramma eating dog food thinking it was a appetizer?? Or the one about the infamous card game and who skunked who. Stories about favorite vacations. Share information about your relative’s occupation. Have some interesting insight as to why your relative chose his or her occupation, share it in your “notes”.
I have had family members record pages of memories of growing up, schools, holiday celebrations, their thoughts on the death of celebrities, and especially every day minutia. These memories, these stories become what some researchers call the “color” of their data bases and their family stories.
And, oh, don't forget to record color for yourself, your parents, your siblings, your children, your grandchildren. Wouldn't you just love to have stories about your great-great grandparents, their memories, maybe journals or diaries. I have a very few, I am greedy, I would love to have more. If you have journals, letters, diaries, have you recorded them in your data base? Have you transcribed them? Do you have images of each page?
Share the color, hopefully you won’t open your data base to find a white, empty page staring back at you. I failed. I pray you can learn from my lesson, make your data base colorful.
* Collage courtesy of Collage.com