Who do I think I am?

It’s been a quiet week and I haven’t had much to say. Sorry about that. (Or maybe I should not be sorry, since I haven’t cluttered your friends list with nonsense.)

I saw a couple of episodes of the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? last week, and as a result I’ve started poking around at genealogy again. I’ve run into an obstacle, though. What do I actually want to accomplish next? Genealogy often means “let’s see how far back I can trace my ancestors,” and that’s one possibility, but there are other potential goals. For instance, my nephew’s wife’s name is very similar to my mom’s, so my niece’s father and I want to find out where the two lines merge. It’s possible my nephew and his wife are like Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, fifth cousins or something. And we only have to go to Québec to find out! Parlez-vous français? Anyway, the point is, I have to figure out what I want to do, and then focus on that with a plan. Or else I’ll keep frittering around the edges of the family tree, which is what I’ve been doing this weekend, and not really getting anywhere.

I loved the bit in the one episode of WDYTYA?, which featured actress Minnie Driver. She’s over in England, working with a professional genealogist, and they discover an aunt of her father’s, I think it was. So Minnie says “Can we call her up?” and in the next scene she’s on the phone talking with this elderly person she didn’t know. In the next scene, they have a lovely visit. (Well, who WOULDN’T have a lovely visit with Minnie Driver?) I admit that this is a huge obstacle to me. I can’t imagine calling up someone and saying “I believe I’m your great-nephew, may we talk for a little while?” Yet at some point you have to do this to get anywhere, unless it’s too late and you can no longer speak with the person … which is pretty much the case with all eleven of my dad’s half-siblings and many of their children.*

Genealogy seems easy at first, especially now when you can go to Ancestry.com and look at all the records they have. But there’s much more to it than a few web searches. My next task is to figure out exactly what bit of the process to do next. And if that step involves picking up the telephone… well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

* It’s that 28-year age difference between my mom and my dad, see.


About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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2 Responses to Who do I think I am?

  1. Anonymous says:

    My brother’s been working on ours for quite some time now. We have a bunch of cousins in New Jersey on the dad side that we didn’t know about. He’s been in touch with them by email.

    The biggest surprises were from my mom’s family. When we were growing up, we were told that her father’s family came from Paris. Not so much–from somewhere in southwest France according to the official records. The other big surprise was that one of the fairly recent relatives had a large chunk of his life unaccounted for after getting to central Michigan from Scotland, and the elders from our childhood were always evasive about him. So we wonder if we don’t have more Chippewa in there than we were lead to believe. I doubt that we’d have enough to get documentation, but still…an interesting thought.


  2. songdogmi says:

    Charlie wanders back in….

    Better southwest France than Paris. Those Paris people are snooty, I hear. And you aren’t snooty at all.

    Don’t you love those holes in the timeline, like the one elder you mentioned? I have holes like that in my father’s timeline, and it vexes me no end. Same situation, though; don’t think I’ll ever get any supporting witnesses or documentation.

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