Saturday, January 17, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over: Week Two - Interview The Living

This week we are asked to set research goals, interview ourselves and interview our family members.  I have talked about my research goals here.  So, it's on to interviews. I have begun to write about myself. I chose the first person, autobiographical style. Seeing as I am living I have chosen to keep that interview to myself. I am fortunate to have in my possession group sheets my grandmother had filled out when she was researching. I have letters from her cousins, aunts, etc too that she had contacted in working her genealogy. Since I am doing my do over solely on my maternal line I will focus on those relatives.

My Maternal Grandparents Robert and Elizabeth Thomas c.1927
There were four children in my mother's family. My mother and one brother are the only two still living, having lost her oldest brother almost 25 years ago, and her older sister several years ago.  There are 14 grandchildren, my cousins, 12 of us are still alive. Scattered across the country from Wisconsin to California, and points in between. What is very awesome is that my (still living) uncle has spent the last 10 years writing his autobiography. My mother has a draft copy that I plan to borrow as part of my interview process.  My cousin, the daughter of this uncle, and I have been collaborating for nearly 6 years on family research. We have been in contact with our cousins in the past, but I will make another attempt to see what I can learn. You never know!

This exercise has, if nothing else, focused my attention on learning the whereabouts of all my cousins, one set considerably older than I.  And perhaps, the siblings of my maternal grandparents and their children and grandchildren. Sometimes going that far sideways gleans some very good information. I plan to draft a set of questions to send to each cousin that I hope will spark some memories and will be enjoyable for them to answer. Not everyone loves genealogy like I do. (I know, right!? Hard to imagine!)

I did do a similar thorough search when I was working my father's side. He was an only child so I had no aunts, uncles or cousins. I reached out to the all the living children of our common great grandfather only to discover that I had more historical information than any of them. However, I did get some "new" relatives out of it and a bunch of great family stories I had never heard before. We still keep in touch. The bonus for me, I got a whole new family with my surname and DNA that I never had growing up as the daughter of an only.

Even if I don't get any good new information, I will be reestablishing ties with my living blood relatives, which is always a good thing.

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