The past is a good thing, was and is.  But no matter how distinguished our genealogies, it is the lives that we ourselves lead which constitute the most important part of our family histories.  I find myself puzzled over and over again at just how easy it is for the family historian to associate herself with the old names and places, and any recorded matters relating to these.  Yet, she may be disinclined to write about her own life as part of the genealogy she has spent so long researching and (ultimately) writing.  Why is that?  I'm not a psychologist.  But I know what I see around me.  I see myriad women  --  oh yes, working for gainful reward by now, in this twenty-first-century world  -- who sideline their personal gifts, in order to get along with the group.  In order to be accepted.  She doesn't dare play at the top of her game lest she be the object of jealousy or lose a relationship.  Does this sound like any of you?  I believe this means of socializing girls, by helping them to deny the truth of their own strengths, may indeed extend into the world of creating personal history when they grow up.  But I believe, however, that the most important history you will ever write has to do with you.  You know you better than you know your spouse or child.  You will never know the aunts or grandmas in your family tree as well and as honestly as you know yourself.   You are in fact the expert about only one person in your family tree  --  you.  This is your chance to REALLY shine as a genealogist committed to preserving the important and singular things about her family.  It's not that you should start with yourself, it's that your personal story as you know it to be is the opportunity you have been seeking to create family history.  The facts about each of us are lost so fast.  That's because the person who could do the best job of writing that story is always trying to write somebody else's story, with the result that we only ever know little bits about anyone.  Never trust your story to a second party; you are, as I have already stated, that subject's expert.  As I have tried over the decades to learn the name of my grandmother Ellen's elementary school and even the subjects she most enjoyed, I realize now that I will never know them.  But should she have written what came natural to her, what is natural to all of us to know, I would know those small facts and so much more.  She would be my grandmother again.  Her message would perchance have reached me even though she had died before I was born.   Having said this, however, bless it that the local school district where she registered her children for school actually kept the small, vaguely indifferent cards on microfilm.  I have seen at least her signature.  Signed me, G. Claire, this 24th day in June 2011.

 


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    G. Claire is a descendant of Welsh Immigrants who came to California during the time of "the Great Excitement," also known as the Gold Rush.  She is, in addition, a descendant of young Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton and of Thomas Cushman, an Elder of the Plymouth Church.  The author is proud to be descended from Silvanus Brown, a member of that most notorious group of Vermont mobsters known as The Green Mountain boys.

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