This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, March 6, 1991

March 6, 1991 - Genealogy

It's hard to know what to think about genealogists. I knew one member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) so busy dwelling on her illustrious family's past that she never got around to doing anything notable herself.

"This little lizard," said another member, "claims she's a brontosaurus on her mother's side."

On the other hand, researching your roots can be a wonderful introduction to history. Eight years ago I knew very little about my forebears. Then I met a woman who just happened to have comprehensive records on the LaRue family stretching from 1606 to 1870; out of curiosity, I called my great-great-Aunt Lula, who just happened to have records from 1826 through the present. The family histories had a two-generation overlap.

So I talked to just two people, and in less than a month got detailed information covering some thirteen generations. Suddenly, the migratory paths of America were illuminated by the wanderlust of my ancestors.

But I was pretty lucky. Usually, searching out family records is a major research project. Anybody who enjoys libraries can look forward to years of happy digging.

It used to be that it was mostly older people who got interested in genealogical research. Partly, that's because you have to live for a while to grasp just how much change even one life can encompass. Upon reflection, you begin to realize how many changes were spanned by the lives of your parents, and your parents' parents.

From this realization grows a deepening pursuit of the past, leavened by a concern for the telling detail. What begins as a hobby can quickly become a way of life. (Most addictive, I think, is the mail you get from similarly obsessed people, all around the world.) As many a librarian has discovered, the Quest For Information is often as much fun as the information itself.
But lately, the average age of the amateur genealogist is dropping. Perhaps the extreme mobility of our society is the cause; people need roots.

Those of you contemplating writing a family history, or who might already have done so, should know about some of the local resources that can help you.

At the Philip S. Miller Library alone, you can find a wealth of historical information. If your focus is local history, you may be interested to know that the Philip S. Miller Library has microfilm copies of every Douglas County News-Press issues from 1881 through 1988. We also have census records for the county, cemetery records, biographies of local people who made a splash, marriage records, and more.

If you're fishing in bigger pools of family data, you'll want to take a look at the COLORADO CEMETERY DIRECTORY, the PASSENGER AND IMMIGRATION LISTS INDEX, and some of our war pension files.

And if you just want to figure out how you get started, we have such sprightly introductory guides as Laverne Galeener-Moore's COLLECTING DEAD RELATIVES, and FURTHER UNDERTAKINGS OF A DEAD RELATIVE COLLECTOR.

You should also get in touch with the Ancestor Seekers Genealogy Society, Inc. They'll give you a wealth of practical tips on tracking down elusive data, how to organize your information, and generally speaking, how to make the past come more vibrantly alive than you ever dreamed possible. They meet at the Philip S. Miller Library on the third Monday of every month. Stop by and check it out.

If neither the library nor the Ancestor Seekers Genealogy Society can give you the answers you need, we can then reach out through our Interlibrary Loan program, and gather information from a truly international network.

After all, ultimately, we're all related somehow. The fun comes in figuring out HOW.

No comments:

Post a Comment