Thursday, June 30, 2011

Educating Myself in Genealogy

I started attending our local historical society in Brown County, Indiana because they would occasionally have interesting programs posted in the newspaper. From that I learned that they had an Archives that was staffed by volunteers. Over the years they had had many good volunteers that had started this Archives and had published some material that was to found here. But I knew there was a lot of good genealogical information that was still unpublished in this county. I decided to pop in one day and offer to volunteer to transcribe whatever they needed. I started on the Tax Lists, something I knew was a very under-utilized source in many counties. Working there I gained many good friends and discovered many good sources that were buried there. The current volunteers at the time knew little about genealogy and didn't know what a great resource they had for genealogists. I then volunteered to do the look-ups that they really didn't seem to like doing. From all this work I was doing I was actually learning myself. I was teaching myself to be a better researcher. I have learned to read old handwriting, learned to dig deeper, learned to use unusual sources, and learned so much more about the history of this county. I have come across so many interesting stories of Brown county's people and history. From all these stories I have now launched upon a new path. I am going to start writing a monthly e-newsletter from these stories that I have found. I have been writing the quarterly newsletter for our Brown County Genealogical Society for about 5 years now but that was mostly data with a few short stories thrown in. This new venture will be a good exercise to try to tie together history and genealogy. That's the way a good genealogy should be written, not just dates and places. Our ancestors were more than just names, dates, and faces. They lived at a certain time of our country with neighbors, circumstances, and environment that affected their daily lives. It behooves genealogists to better themselves. The circumstances of history affected our ancestors. If you should decided to write a family history it should encompass all these things. It will help you to understand what your ancestors' lives were like. Genealogy and history should go hand in hand.

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