Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Gift that Keeps Giving

As I’ve mentioned here many times, genealogy research is a new journey for me, not quite one year.

This time last year when I first signed on the, little dancing leaves were popping up all over the place with details on people previously unknown to me.  While my mom was excited to be filled in on her own great-grandparents and other ancestors, I think she was not so thrilled that I was calling ten times a day to confirm these facts and prompt any memories she may have.

My research did prompt Mom to dig out albums of old photos, which I am in the process of scanning and sharing here and on Facebook. 

But since some family members aren’t on Facebook and don’t follow here, I decided to share the old-fashioned way:  photo albums.  

For Christmas, I bought albums from Michaels, a national chain of craft stores.  They were nothing fancy and not expensive, for my two nieces, two nephews, two sisters and two brothers. 

I'm behind the times in getting an album to my brother in Texas.  Back in October I sent him some photos without thinking to, DUH, put them in an album.  So I picked up one for him, too.  Ed, I am very happy to say I mailed your album earlier today!  Finally!    

I filled the albums with prints of many of these old photos from Mom, captioned with as many names as I knew.  And guess what happened?  They loved it!  Not only that, new conversations have started.  My nephew has loaned me great-Uncle Benny’s Purple Heart and military mementos from other relatives (more about this in a later post).  My sisters are starting to share their old photos. 

Another good thing: there is not so much of that nasty "eyes-glazed-over" look that family genealogists often get. 

One of the best results:  my oldest sister Diane now emails me several times a week with fantastic memories of our parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents!  Diane is the oldest child; I am the youngest, with 13 years (and three additional children) between us.  When Diane was growing up, our immediate family, and indeed the entire extended family was much smaller; life was so very different for my sister than for me. 

What I can’t believe is I never thought to talk to her about these things!  So, besides all this wonderful sharing of photos and mementos, I have learned a very valuable lesson:  everyone has a story to tell.  And, oh, what beautiful stories they are!


  1. Jenny,
    I am the oldest of seven. There are 12 years between my birth and that of my youngest brother. How lucky your family is that you picked up the family history bug. I agree with you that you and your sibling grew up in "different" families. We often discuss this in my family. On my paternal side, I have a cousin who is much older than I. I don't share her memories at all, but I'm glad when I can get her perspective.

    It is wonderful that you made photo albums available to each of your siblings. I gave mine a scrapbook when I was initially into this wonderful hobby. Blogging seems to have replaced this for me now.

    Happy blogging.

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your comments. Yes, blogging does that, doesn't it...lots of fun and benefits, but takes times away from the actual research!

      The scrapbook is a great idea, but I'll really need lots of prep time for that!

  2. Jenny, what a fantastic idea. I love all the positive unexpected consequences of your project. It is so rewarding to find a way to let the rest of the family join in the conversation.

    1. Hi Jacqi,

      Yes, it's been a very pleasant surprise, and the photos keep rolling out! I am loving that part especially!