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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GENEALOGY: AM I DOING IT THE WRONG WAY?

Warning: this is going to be one of my semi-coherent rambles:

I was working on the post on Samuel Endicott when I stumbled across a document online
from the Salem Witchcraft trial era that had been signed by several ancestors. I'll be
dong a post about that later. But as I was looking at I was once again struck by the thought
that maybe I've been going about my genealogy research the wrong way. Let me explain.

When I began researching I put everything I had already from my Aunt Dorothy's research
on my PAF file and then fell into the name gathering trap at FamilySearch. After awhile,
I decided to concentrate on my Ellingwood family line and spent about two and a half
years mainly adding information from two Ellingwood genealogy books to my database.
In between those sessions I would find stories about other ancestral families online and
I'd blog about those here and add what I found to my database. Now when the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge started, I wanted to use that to focus on those ancestors
I hadn't done much work on before. In some cases I've found quite a bit, in others, not
so much at all.

The discovery that I'd had entered John Endecott on my family tree and not recognized his
historical significance was when I first had the thought that maybe I'm doing this the wrong
way somehow. I spent a lot of time on the Ellingwoods, which I do not regret, and when I found those stories about other ancestors I got lost in them and wrote long blogpost series
about them, such as the one about the Newbury Church struggle. Should I have just done a
few short general posts on them and moved on up the family tree? Do I spend too much time researching some families at the expense of others? I suppose my interest in history is to blame. If I find one of my ancestors was involved in something I want to know more about it.

Does this make me a family historian instead of a genealogist, or is there really no difference between the two labels?

Ah well. Too late to turn back now. I'm well and truly hooked on stories that fill in the years between births, marriages, and deaths.

And I still can't believe I didn't make the Endecott connection the first time.

   

2 comments:

Leah said...

I think my approach is similar to yours. The historical importance of a person in my tree is of greater interest than having a full list of descendants with corresponding exact event dates. (I want those, too, but I enjoy the historical context.)
I consider genealogy to be a hobby mostly for my own enjoyment. I hope that the results of my research are of interest to others, but for now I follow whatever path interests me at the moment.

Russ Worthington said...

Mr West,

Totally agree with you. I am finding more fun working on the DASH between the dates. Then trying to put that Dash into historical context.

Just returned from a Civil War Battlefield, where +DearMYRTLE, Mr Myrt, Patti and I put some meat into the dashes of several family members. Three of the four people we found were in the same battle on the same hill on the same day. My TWO were on different sides. When we got home Patti found that she also had an member of her family tree and we stood at his statue on Little Round Top.

Of course, having Mr Myrt help guide the military angle of Gettysburg was a real bonus.

Yup, it's the Dash that has become more important, and it doesn't matter whose dash we work on.

Russ