The closing keynote speech was given by Dave Obee. One of the very first images he showed was the one above. This is Donald Duck’s Family Tree. It is beautiful. Look, all of the spaces are filled in with a name and a picture. Names and pictures are great, but it doesn’t paint us much of a picture of their lives. What kind of life did your ancestor live? What was happening in their community, their place of worship, or their farm? There were many forces in play that shaped their lives. This is the kind of information that we want to use to create a rewarding and informative history.
Dave went on to show us various ways to learn about our ancestors. His mother’s family is from Volhynia and he wanted to know more. He wanted to put his mother’s family into context. He showed us that we can and should use many sources to learn about our families. He suggests that we start with geography. Get current and old maps for the areas that you are researching. Look for photos, old and new of the area. Google is a great place to start. Just type in the name of the community and see what comes up. Ah, the beauty of the Internet!
Newspapers are another wonderful place to get information that will add color to your ancestor’s story. Have you ever read old newspapers? They tell so much and give many clues to your ancestor’s life, even though your ancestor may not even be mentioned. There are big and small stories that are newspaper worthy in every community.
The genealogical information you can get from family members most of the time and there is no time like the present! As time passes, it can be harder to find this information. Information is lost with each generation. At RootsTech 2014, Judy Russell (legalgenealogist.com) said in her presentation that studies are showing that family stories are lost in three generations. We want those stories, so start today!
Dave showed us many resources that we can use to develop our families in the context of their lives. You may not find them mentioned specifically, but knowing the external and internal forces in the community, village, country, and the world in general might give you an idea of why your ancestors did what they did and made the choices that they made.
Use the Internet and the library. Not everything is online. Dave says that “a wise researcher will use archives and libraries, at home and in other cities, and even go to ancestral areas for an on-the-ground experience.”
Last but not least, Dave reminded us that we need to check all resources that we can find. This includes immigration documents, local histories, newspapers, school records, etc.
For more information, check out www.DaveObee.com