Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sharing the Past

Front cover of Louisiana Life July/Aug 2009 can be viewed on their website, link below; you can also subscribe there as well.

Throughout the years that I have been researching my family and others, one of the most valuable tools I have come across is the willingness of others to share. One of the first pieces of advice that we are all given is "talk to family members". This has been extremely helpful to me over time, however, I believe the advice should include extended family, friends and historians.

My first experience was through when I was contacted by several distant cousins who were interested in sharing information. With this opportunity of shared information, I realized the possibilities it held. Many of my "brick walls" crumbled upon sharing with others. Since then, I have joined several on line groups as well as local historical and genealogical societies. Just about everyone involved is willing to share and it is a vast treasure trove of information just waiting to be compiled. Although many of these memberships have cost me a small fee, they have all paid off in some way.

I would like to share one experience in particular that I feel others may find useful. Don't disregard the newspaper and magazines. I am not referring to archived material, but current issues. When you put the word out to friends and family that you are researching family history, you will be surprised what they will do for you (even those people who aren't really interested in genealogy) My grandmother ran across an article in the local paper about a man who was researching the burial places of the Louisiana Governors. I contacted the gentlemen and offered to assist him in any way possible. Through this, I was able to meet another researcher who has supplied me with untold amounts of information and sources on my family. Sometimes it's just a matter of writing to people and talking to them. Historians and genealogists are notoriously kind and helpful when it comes to family history research. One distant cousin sent me two CDs full of information on the Romaguera branch of my tree! What a treat!

In local magazines, I have found articles regarding research and even specific family histories. Again, friends and family members who subscribe to these magazines run across the articles and pass them on to me. I have gotten everything from copies of birth certificates to probate records from interested friends and family as well as tips on books and articles that may be of help. One example is the recommendation of "One Drop" written by Bliss Broyard. After having three different people recommend it; I found that my family was even more intertwined with interracial relationships than I had ever suspected. This revelation I owe to those people who recommended the book as well as passing on further information on the families (of which I am descendant) involved.

What I suggest is that you tell everyone what you are doing and you will be surprised what others have to offer, even those who are seemingly not interested in the subject in general.
Some local examples from my area: LouisianaLife, LouisianaCulturalVistas, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) and the LGHS (who put out a "register" periodically)

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