Monday, 14 May 2012

#250: Family (History) Matters

One of the things that I fully intend to do as a retiree is work on my family tree.

And I am not alone.  In years past, the people who came to the information desk clutching fat file folders and looking for the “genealogy department” were invariably older folks who had the time and inclination to investigate their origins. They were not above making a special trip to Ontario to carry out their investigation and our library became another destination on their family history holiday, along with local cemeteries, churches and city archives.

But they were often thwarted in their pursuit of family facts.  An hour or two at the public library will usually not yield much if the mother lode is hidden in a book or on microfilm.  These researchers from Kentucky, Ohio or Manitoba would often return  home with only a single date or name – a tiny clue to help them unravel the mystery of their past.

It is so much faster and easier now to do family history with the help of web sites such as  You can even try out the service without commitment and take a limited peek into your genealogy.  I entered my mother’s name and birthday and was shown part of a record which may or may not be correct. How intriguing!  I’d love to know more, which is just what the Ancestry folk are counting on.

I may eventually sign up and pay $30.00 for the privilege of doing family research for six weeks in the privacy of my own home.  But since most libraries subscribe to, I could begin my search there, using the library internet for free.   It would be worth it to find out if my mum was a Sara (as we all thought) or a Sarah (which she is in the one public record that I could view online).

I can just imagine her as a Twenties girl, discarding that old-fashioned “h”....

I’m hooked already. I’m already picking apples off that family tree and I haven’t even planted it yet.

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