Friday, June 25, 2010

Grandma's Trunk

I met Elyse Doerfinger  at the SCGS Jamboree this month and I’ve been thinking about her a lot since Jamboree.  I don’t really know her. I met her for a few minutes and I’ve now subscribed to her blogs.  But, I relate to her and wish I had become as involved with genealogy at her age as she is. 

I too was introduced to genealogy at a young age. Just after my freshman year in high school I went with my parents to visit my grandparents in Alabama. My grandmother had an old trunk on her back porch and I always loved looking through it.  This time I started looking at an old composition book in which my great grandmother had drawn a family tree.  There were maybe five or six pages of notes about our family.  My mother suggested that we go into Birmingham and see if we could find out anything more about the family.  What a fun day. I think it was the first time my mother did any family history research and it stuck with her.  She continued to research for the next 25 years.

I went off to college, got married and had children.  Mother would ask me to go to the LDS Family History Center in Los Angeles and we would scroll through microfilm census records.  I have letters I wrote and received from my husband’s family members in response to my questions.  You see my mother and father were researching my side of the family.  My mother belonged to the Whittier Area Genealogical Society (WAGS) and they’ve met on Saturday’s for as long as I can remember.  She’d ask me to go with her and sometimes and I would, but you see my four children were in sports and Saturday’s were pretty busy.  I attended some SCGS Jamborees, I remember one at Pasadena City College and another at a hotel that I think was in Pasadena.  My mother died unexpectedly in 1988 and I inherited her research and the trunk.  I was almost 40 years old when I really started to do genealogy.  I definitely regret the lost years. I miss the time I could have spent working with my parents learning what they knew and never wrote down.  I regret not talking to those relatives who have since passed on.  

This is for Elyse.  Becoming and being a teacher is time consuming. I know because I taught for 11 years and have been in administration for the last 12 years.  During the time my mother was researching, I got a BA, MA, CA teacher’s credential, and administrative credential. I raised four children and attended baseball games, soccer games, football games, swim meets, track meets, and band concerts. I was a Brownie leader, Girl Scout leader, and PTA mother.  I even was in a women’s club where I held a number of offices. We all prioritize our time and although all the things I did were worthwhile, I do regret not putting more priority to my family history. There will be times when you will just not have time for everything.  Be sure to set your priorities and I hope the relationships and research you are doing can remain on the top.

1 comment:

Randy Seaver said...

Hi Jamie,

Well said, and ever so true.

Don't beat yourself up about it - we all have to do what we have to do when there is time to do it. When you work and have a family, genealogy often takes a back seat, or no seat at all.

Look at it this way - online research has made the genealogy search process much faster and efficient - we can make more mistakes now in a shorter time than we used to!

Cheers -- Randy