Genealogy Junkie

February 4, 2010

“Genealogy junkie” may be a bit of an overstatement. But, even though life-in-the-now commands most of my time, I’ve always had an interest in history. Whether it’s of people in general, or the specific people of my family, I enjoy learning their stories. Because, after all, that’s what history is—a story.

I’m formulating a plan of action for the story on my grandmother, Ruth. I’m being very scheduled and very orderly, because that’s how I strive to operate in my work life. The effort ends there, however. My personal life is hardly orderly, and as I dig out the random family history notes, photos, newspaper clippings and obituaries I’ve collected in the past 35 years, I find them all chaotically stuffed into a box. The photos I’ve taken of my husband and kids are the same way. And weren’t we advised to always label and date everything? How did time slip by so fast without me keeping up? Ah, but I digress…

Anyway, due to my recent beading of bells and blogging about Ruth, I’ve reverted back to a state of “genealogy junkie.” I must say, gathering information now is so easy compared to the 1970-80’s. Back then, I would write to people and then wait, and wait, and wait for their response. Talking on the phone was limited because there was this fee called “long distance” (unbeknownst to us nowadays). Now I can just go online and instantly find whatever fact I need.

One of the things I’ve done is set up an database with a family tree for Ruth. It automatically waves a green leaf next to any name that has available ancestry hints. The leaves have pointed me to census reports, ship steerage lists and other fascinating data.

Are you on If so, let’s share information.

Looking up news articles is now a breeze, as well. Simply bring up Google News and search a person’s name and a resource, such as a newspaper. I find going into the advanced search is quicker and more direct. Some of the newspapers offer the files for free, like the Owosso Argus Press, where on page 5 of the March 5, 1947, Area News Briefs, we can read that “Mrs. George Larson spent Monday in Fowlerville visiting with Mr. and Mrs. George Lewis.”

Isn’t that cool? (Mrs. George Larson, by the way, is Ruth.)

On the other hand, the Chicago Tribune is much less giving and charges a fee.

But as quick and easy as the internet makes genealogy, it’s no substitute for the actual human exchange of stories. And because I’m Ruth’s granddaughter and am limited to my own subjective view, it’s important to see her through others’ eyes as well.

So please share! Make comments. Correct my facts, when I’m wrong. Add to them, when I’m lacking.

P.S. Also, please share suggestions for archiving those photos, news clippings and such. What’s the best way to mount them, and in what kind of book?


2 Responses to “Genealogy Junkie”

  1. Jenny Says:

    I think you should scan everything from the family tree box and organize it digitally. Then put everything back into the box the same messy way it is now. It has character that way :)

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