When I was five my mother became a genealogist. Typically, folks don’t start family history research with the title ‘genealogist’ but because of an experience she enjoyed, she skipped the ‘learner’ / ‘beginner’ stage and went right to the full-fledged ‘genealogist’ level in the course of one night.
I remember her spending a fairly significant portion of our monthly food budget on the old legal sized genealogy forms and the post type genealogy book covers the next day. It wasn’t a question of if she was going to spend the money but rather how quickly she could find the supplies she needed.
My folks and siblings had lived through the great depression in a log cabin on a cousins farm. They had to chink the 1” gaps with mud that first winter. Water froze anywhere in the cabin if it was more than 10 feet from the kitchen stove.
Years later, the fact that we had to eat fried mush for lunch and dinner for almost a month, wasn’t a new experience for them. It was for me. Fortunately, we had a good stand of grapes and lots of grape jelly to enhance our dining experience.
That experience was indelibly etched in my memory as was Mom’s devotion to collecting genealogy records from that time on.
Being born 14 years after my closest sibling, I was a tag-along wherever Mom went during the day, including her weekly trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Little kids can be of more value helping find information at a research library than most adults think; but they have to be alone with an adult. A single tag-along usually results in a good experience for both themselves and their parent. Two young folks are usually just two kids who need to be tended.
In this story, I’ll concentrate on the one-on-one experience with my mother at the library.
Even though I was (or thought I was) a lot of help going through the old card files looking for the books my mother wanted to read, not all of my effort was lost on just being a go-fer. I actually learned how to find books that she didn’t know she wanted. Additionally, I learned enough to prescreen them so she didn’t waste our precious time at the library with useless page flipping. She was rather able to spend more time freeing nuggets of information from church, vital and other records.
The greatest thing I learned from being a go-fer was that if I ‘listened’ to the thoughts running through my head while cruising the card files and book aisles, I found items related to our quest that day. When I went after records based on my own wisdom alone, my success rate was much lower.
I’ve often noted that successful family history research is not a solo effort. It is a team effort that involves ourselves, our deceased ancestral families and of course the Lord. If we neglect to involve or listen to any of them, we’ll soon realize that our research logic is weak and probably flawed. The sooner we involve all members of the team, the sooner we can expect success in our ancestral quest.
I never ceased to be amazed at the wealth of information on the FamilySearch Wiki to help researchers find the records that may help them find their ancestors. I’m similarly always dismayed that so few researchers actually use the wiki to help them be successful in their research.
Genealogy Tip : Use the wiki to help you find success in your research.
On the wiki, search by location – not by surname. The wiki contains information about records, collection, locations and topics, not about people by name.
Share your research knowledge with the community by adding information and articles to the wiki. Pay It Forward by sharing your knowledge just as others have done ahead of you in the articles that already exist on the wiki.