Thursday, October 6, 2011
Old School Genealogy
I am fortunate to have inherited a suitcase full of my mom's genealogy correspondence from the 50's through the 70's. Before the age of internet research, family historians did things the "old school" way, writing letters to elderly relatives and county clerks, anyone who might have a scrap of useful information. The return correspondence is a fascinating glimpse into a different time, full of family stories, gossip, and if you were lucky, a clue that might knock down a brick wall. The best were those written in the shaky hand of the elderly, from relatives who had personally met my great great grandparents and could describe their physical appearance, personal preferences, or life events. While today's technology-based genealogy may yield more results in a shorter period of time, it's a lot less personal and is missing the human element of "old school" correspondence. I find myself returning to the letters from time to time, if for no other reason than it brings my ancestors to life in a way no computer database can.