Thursday, January 3, 2013

But I Don't Know Who They Are

I have a private family group on Facebook for my siblings and nieces and nephews. We use this group to post family related information and photos that the rest of the world doesn't need to know about. I, of course, use the group to post family history information as well.

I recently posted two pedigree charts, one for my father and one for my mother. The comments contained the obligatory "cool", "thanks", "good work" etc. However, one of my nieces commented "but I don't know who they are." My first thought was that I had never sent her a pedigree chart, that I had somehow missed her. Then I realized that was not what her comment meant. She didn't "know" those people past a name and a date on a page.

I enjoy the research portion of genealogy more than the story writing and obviously this shows as my niece saw only the names and not the people. I'm going to be honest with myself though (and you), I will not be busting out a family history book anytime soon...if ever. Hopefully, there is a budding writer in my family that will want to tackle that project.

I realized I need to find a better way of telling our ancestors stories so they will be more interesting and meaningful to others. I can use photographs, heirloom items, yearbooks, and newspaper clippings to illustrate the stories. I have all of those items (boy do I have all those items!) but I haven't shared those often as I didn't think they provided any context without the charts. I was building the framework and waiting to fill it in after everyone understood the base. I've been doing this backwards, thinking the charts will lead to an interest in our family history. I should have been using the visual and tangible items to lead back to the charts.

While going through my family photos and heirloom items I realized two things, one I have no idea what I really do have and two some of these items need to be restored and preserved properly. Lucky for me, I have a friend that knows a little something about restoring damaged photos. Joe, from restored the photograph you see above. Isn't it beautiful? This is Ora Gaines Allen Cummings and her son William Cummings. The photo was taken in 1921 in Winchester Kentucky.

After posting the before and after photos of Ora and Billy in my family group on Facebook, the comments were much more engaging and interesting. Does anyone else see a Ferris Wheel in this photo? Me neither, but one of my sisters thinks that's what the tree behind Ora looks like. :)

Photos and heirlooms will become my focus in 2013. I'm looking forward to sharing all that I have with my family and blog readers. Be sure to visit Joe's website to see more restoration projects as well as his Facebook page.