Sunday, May 18, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 5 - Family Stories

Family stories would have to be one of my favourite topics - I first became interested in family history as a 16 year old and would happily visit older family members to hear their stories, much to their astonishment (You really want to listen to this???).  Of course, the stories I got were not always 100% accurate, but they were fun anyway.  As a teenager I only had one surviving grandparent to ask questions, and I found my mothers side of the family much easier to research to start with as there were actually older people I could talk to.  For my father's side of the family it was harder - both grandparents had died, most of my aunts and uncles were scattered, and my father knew very little - he couldn't even tell me his mother's maiden name ("I don't know, it never came up").  His parents had married in England before coming to Australia, so there were no great-aunts or uncles to talk to either.
My father passed away over a year ago having developed Alzheimers, and as his memory faded I had printed him a folder of old photographs blown up to A4 size.  Many of these photos I had found in an old shoebox at the back of a wardrobe, and had a great time scanning and digitising them - which was very handy as Dad did some 'cleaning up' without my knowledge and I am still discovering what he threw away without my knowledge.  A sure way to get him calm and relaxed was to open the folder and get him talking about a photo - even when he couldn't tell my name any more he could identify every farm hand in an old photograph from the 1950's.  He could tell me the name of the horse he and two siblings drove to school in the early 1930's and the name of the girl he went square dancing with as a teenager - and all these stories have been noted on the back of each photo.
Make sure you take the time to talk to your older generations while you have the chance, as none of us last forever, and don't forget you own stories too - your children or grandchildren may not be interested right now (I actually don't have either of these, but I do have cousins and their children to consider), but you never know who may become interested in the future.

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