Wednesday, April 07, 2010


This weekend, I got a chance to enjoy a project my sister-in-law Linda has been working on for months.

Linda has been tracing her (and therefore my husband's and children's) family tree. Some go back as far as the 17th century, to Switzerland, to Germany, to exotic places like Iowa and South Dakota. I was amazed at how much work she had done. Three big binders full of information, families, photographs, newspaper clippings, letters.

As I read through the pages, several things struck me.
  • This took a tremendous amount of detailed, tedious work. I'm in awe.
  • That we have an easier life now. So many women died in childbirth, so many children died in infancy, so many people died young.
  • That we all have a proscribed number of days on this earth, and there is nothing we can do to lengthen those days. There were hundreds of names in the database, and the vast majority had passed away decades ago.
  • That there is comfort in knowing where you came from. Roots ground you, to places, to people, to your history.
  • That looking through a family history like this gives my life perspective. There is a measure of healing that has come as a result of this project. As our family continues to grieve the passing of my mother-in-law, things like this family tree project give us perspective and continuity.

Have you done any family tree assembly? Did you learn anything surprising?


  1. My FIL has researched several lines of his family tree. I think the worst of the bunch was a very mean & wicked slave owner, but the best is that my kids are now the 13th generation of Stalcups here in this country....all of them Christian.

  2. LOL, exotic places like Iowa and South Dakota.

    What an amazing project! Go, Linda! How neat to have the details and articles. I can't imagine how long that took. We don't have one for our family, and now I wish we did.

  3. My grandfather has a pretty detailed family tree for my father's side of the family. We know very little about my mother's side. I wish we knew more.

  4. Cool project! I have a few stories as both sides of my family are young in this country (I'm the 2nd generation born here). Maybe I should talk to Linda to find out how to start finding out stuff from the old country

  5. My information mostly came from Mom and Dad's house. Mom had a bag, boxes full of stuff, her scrapbooks, her mother's scrapbooks, my Great Aunt's notes, etc. I used funeral bulletins, wedding invitations, baby announcements, notes on napkins written at family gatherings, lists jotted down. If I found it written down somewhere I organized it and put it in a binder.

    Yay for post it notes! Did you know there are post its that are thicker to use like tabs on a page?

  6. A friend of mine is doing some genealogy for me right now. I am struck by the simple, uncomplicated life some of my ancestors had. She says one of them was a button salesman. Imagine that. I admire her determination to do such a project.

  7. I have an aunt who is our family historian on my father's side. She's done a lot of research and keeps her records up to date with each addition to the family. I'm currently working on my mother's side of things. As I went through papers after her death, I discovered the marriage certificate... the date of which was months later than what I had been told. It seems my parents married after I was on the way but they didn't think it proper that I should know. Funny how attitudes change in different generations.