The other day my mom, my granddaughter, and I went to the store and the cashier commented on how much we look alike. (Those of you who really know us, will get the laugh about that.) “Undeniably family,” she said, “Mother, daughter, granddaughter.” When my granddaughter explained that we were her grandmother and great grandmother the cashier was surprised. That kind of thing has happened to me all my life. According to most of the people I know, I have been exceptionally blessed to know all of my grandparents and great grandparents. In fact, two of my great grandparents were still alive when I got married.
In addition to that blessing, I also have written information about my ancestry. I’m not sure where this written document started, but I received it from one of my grandfather’s sisters. It tells of the two brothers who were slaves sold away from each other and how one of them moved to freedom and eventually settled in Tennessee. It list all the brothers and sisters for four generations including my grandfathers sisters and brothers. I have this non-tech document to pass down to my children and my grandchildren.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the services that are offered through technology where you can trace your ancestry back to its beginnings, but to have a family handwritten document which includes some personal notes and details beyond names and dates is priceless. I’ve decided to keep this tradition of passing down family information going. I have added pages from my great grandmother’s and grandmother’s bibles along with first hand stories that I heard or was told by them.
Even if you can’t go back that far you can start with what you know. You can start with your own childhood. You can add family photos and interview the oldest members of your family to start a new tradition of documenting your family legacy. There are also some pretty nifty books (see below)out there that you can purchase to help you get started with this kind of activity, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make this happen.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where personal contact and family ties are challenged by time and space. Many families are spread all over the U.S. and abroad, so annual get-togethers and holiday gatherings don’t happen as often as they once did. Our generation was close knit. We were held together by the matriarchs and patriarchs of the family, as well as what we used to call the “home” house. Now, there are younger generations who don’t know their relatives beyond their siblings and relatives who live in the same community. Yet, we can still tie all the generations together by providing non-tech ancestry information. I personally believe it fulfills that longing that we all seem to have – where did I come from and who am I really?
I have no doubt that my granddaughter will find a way to turn some of this into a technological wonder in the Cloud, but I also know she will treasure our family documents forever. I hope she will pass them on to her children and grandchildren one day.
Are you capturing your family legacy in some way? Do you have photo or written documentation? Share with our community the ways you are passing down your family history.