When I first started researching my family history, one thing my mom stressed was that it was a family history not just my history. The story of my grandparents lives didn’t just belong to me. Their story was important to my brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as to my grandparents’ siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and so on. Each of us individually may have a piece of their history (a story, photo, heirloom) that other family members do not have. When we all share what we each have or know, we ensure that the next generations do not miss out.
My mom told me about all of the extended family who had shared their research with her in order to grow the branches and roots of our family tree. Over the past 40+ years of combined research, we have spent thousands of hours conducting research to document our ancestors and their descendants and thousands of dollars paying for subscriptions and DNA tests. Even with all that we have personally done ourselves, it look a collaboration with other relatives to bring together a more complete family history.
Crista Cowan’s video It’s Family History NOT Personal History really sums up all that my mom taught me. When someone contacts you about a possible family connection, please think about how what you have done can help another person learn about their family history.
The holiday card below was nearly lost to my family. I received it in a box of “misc stuff” after my grandmother Helene Marie Gow (nee Rude) passed away. When her mother Olaug Therese Rude (nee Fladaas) died in 1923, the two youngest daughters were given up for adoption. For several years the 4 Rude sisters were able to stay in touch, but they eventually lost touch with Martha (photo on the right). Finding this “lost” photo was a gem as most family members had never seen it. She was not just my great aunt Martha. I did not want her to be forgotten. It has now been shared with all of Martha’s nieces and nephews and their children.