Family Historian Shares Experiences about Collecting Family History Data in Helpful Guide

Your children need to know.  You need to know.  Family history.
Private, controlling and stubborn matriarchs and patriarchs of families work very hard at maintaining power and control over family stories whether compelling or not. Only a select few, usually the eyewitnesses who were present at the time a life-changing event occurred, really know the full account. However, the big mouth, exaggerator, liar, and know-it-all type will talk over those relatives who challenge his or her story-telling with, “I don’t recall seeing it that way. I know that’s a lie because I was there. Who do you think you are saying that about…you know you are wrong! Why do you keep so many secrets?”
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The controller of information will discredit truth by bad-mouthing family members who exposed his or her lies, manipulations or exaggerations. They might say things such as: “You can’t trust her, did you know…? I wouldn’t think too much about what was said that relative doesn't have a good track record, so what does he know? Those old fools wouldn’t remember anything; they were too young back then. You know our kin is old and forgetful, what would they know?”

Don’t underestimate anyone in the family even if documents might not be totally accurate or stories a bit strange, ask yourself, "Is what he or she saying backing up most of the family stories I heard about? Do the documents he or she has given me hold up any facts?"

I took the liberty of interviewing many relatives and cross referenced what they told me with historical facts via government records, and I checked with others who knew the individuals who were telling parallel family stories. What I found was surprising those who wanted very much to be the gatekeepers of information were critical of those who knew more than them. The jealousy of relatives, who were self-proclaimed family historians with little or no significant ancestor records, was so thick you could cut it with a knife! When family truth came out, they tried almost anything to put it back in the box. Negative statements were made about my material from a single person which I have changed actual comments slightly and added others, “Don’t get that book…I don’t believe it. Oh, those are just made up stories. It’s all opinion, there are no facts! Why write a book anyway? I don’t care what she said, he said or they say this is what I say!” 
The negativity lives on with mean-spirited loved ones. Even if some of the individuals weren’t that forthcoming with their personal lives and even if facts were not 100% accurate, wouldn’t it make sense for critics to produce documents that would prove otherwise? Most critical folks never bother to put their money where the mouth is to attend family reunions, purchase family memoirs or help others in big ways; therefore, their criticisms should fall on deaf ears, better yet, leave them out of your projects if you suspect they might be a problem.

Family is a big deal for many people who have grown up in environments where it was encouraged and sometimes demanded to connect with kin. A number of relatives spend much time contacting loved ones, gathering with them, and servicing one another just like their ancestors did before them. But with technological advancements numerous family meetings are occurring over the Internet.

The generation of children born during the 1970s had been labeled, "X" back in the 1990's as the slacker group by mainstream media. They were described as having no original thoughts, styles or plans to do anything significant to move society forward. I recall the Generation X hype back then during a time when we were bombarded with advertisements, television episodes, and more pressuring us to go to college. Some of us were the first to ever set foot on a university campus in our families.

The tide was turning once again with the traditional family and a lot of us Generation Xers didn't find family connectedness as significant as our predecessors. We were actually moving out of our hometowns rapidly which meant away from family. Further, many of us were not like elders preserving family traditions. When e-mail came along, relatives were receiving electronic messages sometimes more-so than phone calls.
Generation X, who had been introduced to multi-media computers which featured Cd-rom drives and surround sound speakers, online entertainment, shopping and more started having their children. Like their parents, a number of them became increasingly distant physically, but drew closer to electronic communication. To date, it isn't considered taboo to see a whole family seated in front of portable screens touching them, sending "selfies", sharing images, and leaving comments.

As a result of increasingly new technologies, websites and more, what you can find and share online about family history continues to change. The old ways of researching kinfolk like having to take a plane ride to visit a local library, view a family member's photo album, walk a community, and do other things to learn about historical events is usually a last resort for a researcher since many people are posting valuable information online.

Family members might be scanning and editing photos for an online album, then uploading old videos and records to a blog or web page, and doing other things to make family history more accessible via a social network, private e-mail, video or audio hosting site. Relatives might join online genealogy communities and reunion sites to connect with old favorites or meet new kin while others collaborate on family projects via online publishing programs. In addition, apps may be downloaded and relevant facts entered and shared via phones and other handy devices.

Seeing new inventions daily both on and off the Internet tells us Generation Xers, and those who had been critical of us, one thing, we too are all getting older. It is time for us to start organizing our offline keepsakes, continue to add to family documents and provide other useful information for our children and grandchildren, as well as do many things that our predecessors didn't do...This book is available at the following links:

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