In the beginning …
I became interested in family history because I wanted to share the stories with my son so that he will have a past and a heritage to share with his children. I was looking forward.
What I’m learning as I search and dig and join the dots, is that I can also look sideways – not to future generations – but to those already here. It began when I started to talk to my mum, sharing my finds and asking her questions. It turns out, that although she’s been a prolific family story-teller over the years, she knew much more than she’d told. Not because she was necessarily keeping secrets, just because it hadn’t occurred to her I’d be interested in some of the more obscure relatives.
It was my mum who got in touch with one of my dad’s cousins to let her know what I’m doing. A couple of lovely, long, chatty emails later and I not only have a new story (and an extra great uncle) that I may never have found, but I’m enjoying my email connection with a relative I last saw in the 1960’s when she was getting married and I was a bratty five year old misbehaving at her wedding.
I’ve read the advice in genealogy books and websites to begin a family history search by asking living relatives for information, but I grew up in New Zealand, half a world away from all but my immediate family. Although I did spend the 1990s back in the UK, I wasn’t interested in “old stuff” in those days, and now I’m back in NZ. The internet makes the world seem smaller, but the path to my relatives in-boxes is proving to be a slow one for me.
Hopefully my mum and cousin Anne have helped me clear that path a bit.