How are you saving your family history?

Joined
Mar 2, 2019
Location
Reno, Nevada
I had a lovely encounter this week that left me thinking about how we keep our family history alive. I had gone into an office supply store to mail a package and caught a glimpse of a large certificate that another customer was removing from a frame. I stopped and asked the man if I could see (yes, I'm nosy that way). He was delighted to show me the certificate his father had gotten for his service in WWII, which he had combined in a frame with a photo of the men in that unit. He told me he had brought the certificate and photo in to copy them so he could share this important history with his children and grandchildren. Then he thanked me for letting him show me his history! I loved seeing it and thought he had a great idea to make copies so his descendants could have a record. It made me think about ways I could share the genealogy I've done with my son.

So - how do you preserve/display/share what you've learned about your family?
I have no descendants and have given up on ever having them. It's ironic that I've been the lifelong history nut and collector of all the family items (including my husband's side). To pass all this on after I'm gone:
  • I have posted GEDCOMs on FamilySearch and Ancestry.
  • I've written an illustrated history of each branch; I've shared the histories with anyone who's been interested and hope to submit them to the Internet Archive (archive.org) to make them available permanently to anyone who searches for the names in the future.
  • I've scanned most of the photos I've collected and shared copies with anyone who's been interested.
  • I'm leaving instructions with my sons on which relatives to offer the original photos, document, mementos, etc. to when I die.
  • I will donate my Civil War ancestor's diary to the State Historical Society of Iowa if they will take it.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2019
Location
Reno, Nevada
In an effort to support the concept that we are simply "American" I have worked to separate the ancestry of my traditionally Irish heritage from my children. Why would I attempt to some how save my family history? Trying to save my family history would not help my children go from being Irish American to being coming simply American. Many Americans believe that we are American not Irish American, African Americans, or what ever. I find the concept of this thread a bit odd and have difficulty understanding the basic concept behind the OP. Would we not be all better off putting our family history behind us and concentrate concentrate on what we currently are?
Your response has stunned me; I can't help wondering if you are serious. I have researched my family history to learn about myself, period. The relatives with whom I've shared my research find various individuals they're especially proud of (the one who fought in the Civil War is especially popular!). Two of my ggg-grandparents came here from Ireland during the potato famine, worked in a shoe factory and then on the railroad, and eventually homesteaded in Nebraska. To me that's a typical AMERICAN story.

America has been called a melting pot, and I'm proud to be the result of it. (I'm not happy about the displacement of the indigenous people in the process, but that's another topic). My ancestors came from England, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, and Norway. There were Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and more. They all intermarried and are part of my DNA.

Others have noted that some first-generation immigrants seem to share your feelings. I first became interested in my family history when I was 12 because my grandmother had come from Norway and I thought that was really cool. However, she refused to speak Norwegian or teach it to her kids. Many years later (and thanks to her oldest daughter and the Internet), I managed to make contact with relatives still in Norway and have a complete history of that branch.

The example of my Norwegian grandmother leads me to my answer to your question: "To each his own."
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
I have no descendants and have given up on ever having them. It's ironic that I've been the lifelong history nut and collector of all the family items (including my husband's side). To pass all this on after I'm gone:
  • I have posted GEDCOMs on FamilySearch and Ancestry.
  • I've written an illustrated history of each branch; I've shared the histories with anyone who's been interested and hope to submit them to the Internet Archive (archive.org) to make them available permanently to anyone who searches for the names in the future.
  • I've scanned most of the photos I've collected and shared copies with anyone who's been interested.
  • I'm leaving instructions with my sons on which relatives to offer the original photos, document, mementos, etc. to when I die.
  • I will donate my Civil War ancestor's diary to the State Historical Society of Iowa if they will take it.
When my husband and I started on his mother's family history we were delighted to find a distant cousin had donated his notes and a narrative of the family history to several libraries and historical societies. We still did the work to prove the facts but having his work to guide us was invaluable.
 

John Winn

Major
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
Very interesting to hear about all the great work being done.

I'm in a different situation in that there's hardly any family left and I'm not close to the few cousins I have. I do know that they aren't really interested in the family history. That seems to be a theme as neither of my parents had much of anything regarding their families nor did any of their siblings. My parents thought genealogy was something of a joke and only done by snobby right-wingers who wanted to make themselves feel superior by joining groups like the DAR (which they obviously also thought was ridiculous). When my mother died (dad went first) I knew almost nothing of the family (all grandparents died before I was born) so I decided to just find out about maybe the grandparents. After I got into it I started to find out all sorts of really interesting things and discovered there'd been people I could have met as a child but who were never mentioned; also that both parents had siblings who'd died young (also never mentioned). My mother didn't have any family stuff - not even a single photo. My father had a few photos (which he'd never shared with me; discovered them after he died) but that was it and his father was a well-known man in his day (a university president and president of the Southern Baptist Convention). I soon found out that two ggg grandfathers had been neighbors and close friends with Thomas Jefferson and one was on the committee with Jefferson to found what later became the U. of VA. And so on. I ended up spending maybe three years and a lot of money to find out what I could.

Given that there's really nothing other than my research and no family is interested I've written biographical articles and donated them to various libraries and historical societies and to the university where grandpa had been president as well as to the Southern Baptist repository. I also created very good, documented trees on Ancestry which are public and provided FamilySearch with such also. I have four large plastic storage containers of various materials but have no idea what to do with any of that. I think it'll just get tossed once I'm gone.

I do have some original photos (some tintypes) that a distant cousin gave me (long story) but, again, am not sure what to do with those either. They had belonged to the grandmother of they guy who gave them to me and he'd not looked at them in decades and, I think, was just glad to get rid of them. Seems like the curse affected even distant cousins.
 
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Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Your response has stunned me; I can't help wondering if you are serious. I have researched my family history to learn about myself, period. The relatives with whom I've shared my research find various individuals they're especially proud of (the one who fought in the Civil War is especially popular!). Two of my ggg-grandparents came here from Ireland during the potato famine, worked in a shoe factory and then on the railroad, and eventually homesteaded in Nebraska. To me that's a typical AMERICAN story.

America has been called a melting pot, and I'm proud to be the result of it. (I'm not happy about the displacement of the indigenous people in the process, but that's another topic). My ancestors came from England, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, and Norway. There were Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and more. They all intermarried and are part of my DNA.

Others have noted that some first-generation immigrants seem to share your feelings. I first became interested in my family history when I was 12 because my grandmother had come from Norway and I thought that was really cool. However, she refused to speak Norwegian or teach it to her kids. Many years later (and thanks to her oldest daughter and the Internet), I managed to make contact with relatives still in Norway and have a complete history of that branch.

The example of my Norwegian grandmother leads me to my answer to your question: "To each his own."
When I was a child, I realized that my immigrant relatives always spoke Norwegian when they were discussing matters they didn't want me to hear! One of the earliest phrases that I learned was "til helvete med regjeringen" (to H... with the government). 😋
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
groups like the DAR
My grandmother was very involved with the DAR and wanted my brother and I to join the children's branch. My mother was adamantly opposed! She was still sore about Marian Anderson :wink:
I have four large plastic storage containers of various materials but have no idea what to do with any of that. I think it'll just get tossed once I'm gone.
Please do find a place to donate what you have! Local history societies, archives, anyplace that will take it! I have so found many fascinating things out about my family because some relative or another decided to donate their items rather than throw them away. I hate to think what was lost
 

John Winn

Major
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
My grandmother was very involved with the DAR and wanted my brother and I to join the children's branch. My mother was adamantly opposed! She was still sore about Marian Anderson :wink:

Please do find a place to donate what you have! Local history societies, archives, anyplace that will take it! I have so found many fascinating things out about my family because some relative or another decided to donate their items rather than throw them away. I hate to think what was lost
Almost nothing of what I have is original material but, rather, lots of things from books, old articles, and the like. I do have copies of some original stuff like: deeds; birth and death and burial records; marriage records; probate files; military records. All these folks lived back east. Nobody seems interested in bulky collections of such - especially since most of it resides somewhere in the original - although a number did take my write-ups and lineage reports. Only a few of my folk were of historic note so it's only those whose stories are of interest to anybody.

I'm pretty sure when I go that it's going to be like my CD and vinyl collections and history books: dumpster material.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
Interesting that people who had ancestors who arrived in 20th Century want to forget their origins. But it seems that those who had ancestors who arrived in the 19th or 18th Century want to know all about Why they cane and How they came(indentured servants?). I have one who arrived before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth.
Agreed.

I spent some time researching my Father's linage back to Scotland during the mid 1600s.
Seems the English Civil War spilled over the border, and a Scottish Civil War ensued.

( That was really nothing new ... as the Scottish Clans were always fighting each other)

But it seems we were Royalists on the loosing side ... after supporting Charles I.
So my Dad's family took the first boat to the "New World" to avoid having their heads chopped off.

:bounce:

But I may be wrong ...
The history of the British Isles is more complex than than the historic Chinese dynasties.

But you are correct, everyone should always be proud of their heritage and always dig deeper.
 
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Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Interesting that people who had ancestors who arrived in 20th Century want to forget their origins. But it seems that those who had ancestors who arrived in the 19th or 18th Century want to know all about Why they cane and How they came(indentured servants?). I have one who arrived before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth.
Sorry but, respectfully I have to disagree. My grandparents, who came in the 20th century, were always proud of their heritage. One set had the coat-of-arms of Kristiansand (Norway) on their living room wall while the other set had paintings of various Norwegian places on their walls. They lived in Bay Ridge which was then the Norwegian section of Brooklyn. There was always a big parade on the Syttende Mai (May 17), the shops were mostly Norwegian and many Norwegian institutions still exist: the Norwegian-American Hospital, Sons of Norway lodge, etc. And, if you need to see more--just look at what Midwestern Norwegian immigrants (many of whom were 20th century) hold as important. Just Google "Vesterheim" or rosemaling. Ditto Seattle area.

The Danes and Swedes are just as fervent.

BTW there were many settlers before the Pilgrims. That was 1620. Any one from Virginia should know the date 1609. Even Maine had some earlier settlers. In fact, the earliest Europen settlements in the US were in Florida (St. Augustine was founded in 1565).

We're immigrants, most of us--all with something to add to the mix.
 

DixieRifles

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There was always a big parade on the Syttende Mai (May 17), the shops were mostly Norwegian and many Norwegian institutions still exist: the Norwegian-American Hospital, Sons of Norway lodge, etc.
That is great how they celebrate their culture.
Today I feel like the new cancel culture trend is some suppressing this. I feel like I cant my deep Southern heritage.

Also, my ancestor arrived in Jamestown in 1618.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
Today I feel like the new cancel culture trend is some suppressing this. I feel like I cant my deep Southern heritage.
Well, I'm now digging into other branches of the family tree.
Personally I'm not worried about any "cultural trends".

I found all Confederate connections within six months.

My Mom's Irish side has been interesting ... and was actually easy to research .

Dad's side is much more complex. Scottish on the front of course, but with so many English & Irish connections, it's almost impossible to follow.

Not to mention everyone with the same name had a different spelling of said name.
 
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DixieRifles

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My Mom's Irish side has been interesting ... and was actually easy to research .

Dad's side is much more complex. Scottish on the front of course, but with so many English & Irish connections, it's almost impossible to follow.

Not to mention everyone with the same name had a different spelling of said name.
Trying to weave this back to the Main Topic, how do you document these name changes and these impossible finds?? If you assume your family will read your Trees and Documents, how do you draw attention that this name did change and here is proof?

I have a TILGHMAN branch on my Mother's side and there is a large book on this family. I used it to record the lineage going back to Germany---but I haven't verified all of this data. The interesting thing is that for 3 or 4 generations, they spelled their name TILLMAN.
Nothing seems easy after you go back to 1840 and earlier when they didn't record names of wives nor children in the Census records. That makes it difficult to find the surnames of the wives.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Trying to weave this back to the Main Topic, how do you document these name changes and these impossible finds?? If you assume your family will read your Trees and Documents, how do you draw attention that this name did change and here is proof?

I have a TILGHMAN branch on my Mother's side and there is a large book on this family. I used it to record the lineage going back to Germany---but I haven't verified all of this data. The interesting thing is that for 3 or 4 generations, they spelled their name TILLMAN.
Nothing seems easy after you go back to 1840 and earlier when they didn't record names of wives nor children in the Census records. That makes it difficult to find the surnames of the wives.
Jumping in on this. Many genealogical software programs allow for this. It is possible to enter a name and to enter all variants thereof. Each entry (name and variant) requires a source.

Example:
Name: Hezekiah Colquohon
AKA: Hezekiah Colhoun
Nickname: Dingbat Colhoun

In Scandinavian genealogy, until recently the surname of an individual depended on the forename of his father. That is:
Ole Jonson--son of Jon Petersen--son of Peter Andersen--son of Anders..... and so forth. Your Tillman/Tilhghman change happens every generation.

If you have this sort of name change in your family, you can control it by using a software program that is flexible enough to allow this. And, since each entry has to have a source, it is all documented.

Wives are ALWAYS entered with a maiden name; if you don't know it, then live that surname blank. Software programs will ask you something like "do you want to enter a marriage between Hezekiah Colquohon and Lucy _____?. If you reply "yes" the name "Lucy Colquohon" is automatically added as a variant. Your genealogically clueless relative doesn't see all of this background: all s/he sees is Hezekiah Colquohon and Lucy (maiden name unknown) Colquohon.

if the clueless relative says "Well, how does cousin DixieRifles know that one generation used one name (or spelling) while the next used another?", the clueless relative simply hits the button for source.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
how do you document these name changes and these impossible finds??
It's a very long story.

Way too long to attempt a basic explanation.
But I will try to give a quick snap shot.

We use the name Magee.
Also spelled as McGee, McGaHee , MackgeHee ,McKee , McGhee and countless other variations.

We were originally MacGregors.

But the King banned the Clan name for centuries.
So my branch took the name MackGayhe.

But uneducated clerks recorded many names phonetically.
( That didn't help any research over the years) .

More confusion than anything else.

At least DNA tests are now sorting things out.
 

DixieRifles

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Here is an example of a WORD document I create for a Civil War veteran ancestor that includes copies of the NARA records(individual cards), original documents, organizational tables and info, battlefield maps, copies of OR's and pages from other resources. This example is reduced in size just to show you how I format the Header and pages and how I arrange the documents and annotate some of them. Document has a total of 17 pages.

This document is for Stephen Musselwhite of the 17th Mississippi Regiment who fought at Gettysburg only to be wounded at Chickamauga and discharged.
Musselwhite History pg1.JPG
Musselwhite History pg2.JPG

Musselwhite History pg4.JPG

Musselwhite History pg6.JPG
 

DixieRifles

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Collierville, TN
We use the name Magee.
Also spelled as McGee, McGaHee , MackgeHee ,McKee , McGhee and countless other variations.
Ahh. I always thought the old names were well established but I can see the confusion.

BTW, are you related to a Mike McGee who lives outside of Memphis? I mean "closely" related---I'm sure you are 17th cousins somehow.
 

EJ Zander

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Location
Gettysburg, PA
My girls are able to visit family graves dating back to the early 1700s that are within an hours drive. They know their ancestors Moravian history and the family's contributions during the Revolutionary war and ACW. They were fortunate to have a close relationship with their Great Grandmother how lived to be 99. Our family history is preserved thru their knowledge of it and they can in turn share it.
They are also aware that they themselves are making family history everyday.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
I can see the confusion.
Yeah, we've traced the current spelling back to a few documents signed by my ancestors that remain on file in Virginia Court records.

The fact my GGGGG (five Grandfathers back I think) were spelling our name as we spell it .... before the revolution ... is too cool.

I'm lucky to have copies of those documents.
 
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