Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Telegraph, Telephone, Tell Aunt Ethel
Genealogy is a two way street. Most of the time we are going backwards looking for ancestors from the past but we must also continue to document current history as well. People are having babies all the time and as the generations get further apart is becomes more difficult to keep up with the new arrivals. So as a genealogist you need to have systems in place to keep tabs on distant families note worth news.
In an ideal world you would receive a announcement or a least a Christmas card from every living family in your genealogy program with an update on an wedding, graduation or births that have occurred in the recent years. But we don't have an ideal world and when you start to get to 2nd and 3rd cousins it is not practical or affordable to send out those thing to people you hardly know. It is easy to get information from local relative or close relatives that you see throughout the year but what about the rest.
Relying on the relations to of others
Though you may not be close to the distant relatives perhaps you are close to someone who is close to them. A personal example is that my Uncle was closer to some of the my fathers cousins than my father. My Uncle saw them more frequently so to get genealogy information on who was having a baby or getting married in that family who I only saw at the occasional funeral or the once in a while family reunion, I would get the information from my Uncle who what happy to share the information he received when he saw them last.
When lines break
The problem with the "relative of a relative" situation is that communication lines can break. In my own example my uncle died. So the news out of the cousins family ceased. Luckily my father has a cousin on that side of the family that he sees more than I do so, he is able to get births and marriages more frequently than next funeral but not as frequely as my uncle used to deliver. But sometimes you have to take what you can get.
Many families have a central figure that always seems to have the news on everyone. The person usually is older and has ties to multiple families. It may be a grandmother, or a Aunt but they are the one everyone sends the an obligatory birth and wedding announcement too, as well as the most recent school picture of the kids. As the family genealogist, you need to make it a point to call or visit "Aunt Ethel" first to see how she is doing and secondly to be able to get a hold of her treasure trove of genealogy information both past and present.
As I have posted before Facebook can be a genealogical resource for distant relatives. But Facebook also has its limitation. People generally only friend people they know. So if you friend your 20 year old great niece, you may be the only one of her "friends" over 40 which could have some awkward things coming through your news feed if she even accepts your request. But friending relatives that you know and are you own age could also get you genealogy information when they post about new grandchildren.
So when trying to get names down the tree rather than up, it is good to have strategic placed relatives that can give you all of the news of distant families that are also descendants of your relatives. As the generations continue the names that you put in as babies will be having babies of their own and you need to be ready to document them as best as you can.