Updated: May 9
Some people come to family genealogy long after the most reliable and useful source of personal information is no longer available. That was my experience. Traditionally, the best source is the oldest relative: parents, or better yet, grandparents. By the time most family genealogists begin their research parents are likely in their 60’s, grandparents in their 80’s. I came to genealogy much later than usual, slow poke that I am, complicated by the fact that both my parents had died long ago, as had all my aunts and uncles, and grandparents, only one of whom I had ever met. What brought me to genealogy was my cousin Bud, the eldest of my first cousins. He had discovered an old family photo album and he shared photos with me and asked for some help identifying a couple of people in the pics and clarifying some history. One thing led to another, and soon I was researching the other, paternal side of my ancestry. Eventually, I became so wrapped up in that side, I saw the need for a book to tell their stories; it's coming out later this year. All because a cousin asked me about some old photos.
You can be the source of inspiration for your family’s story (or write it yourself). Be Bud. Got any old albums with photos of strangers? Reach out to cousins, first, second, removed or not. Whether or not they have expressed interest in family genealogy. You never know who might be on the edge of becoming the one who will preserve your family’s story for the next generation. Or will provide you with what you need to write it.