Here's something to think about as you develop your family tree and genealogy expertise - the work you do is very linear, but it also has very clear distinctions marked by two things - life and death. You have a birth certificate for someone and you also find a death certificate or a listing for them in the Social Security Death Index too. A beginning and end, and in between these two very distinctive points is an entire life. This is where all of the "leaves" of the family chart are found.
In the last blog I encouraged you to find out some personal details about each person you list on the family tree maker, and one of the simplest ways to locate this sort of endearing and relevant data is in the obituary. For instance, stop and think about the "typical" obituary. The family tries to find a way to "sum up" their beloved and in doing so they often leave behind some wonderful information for their descendants.
This is the sort of information you will want to use as you track your ancestry and family tree information. Did a distant relative play a professional sport? Write a novel? Did they always "clean up" when they played board games? Did someone have a thing for cats? Maybe another person was known for their philanthropy? Obituaries are full of details that may not be found anywhere else and you need to make a point of finding as many as possible.
Sometimes a family tree or genealogy project comes to a definitive end when someone in the family never marries or has any children. This is the sort of person who may leave behind that seemingly empty branch without history for the family tree. Quite often, however, their obituary is a wonderful resource if it was written by someone who loved them.
If the obituary seems devoid of details you can also plan a bit of a road trip. Why? I discovered that cemeteries are also full of all kinds of information too. For example, I had an uncle who died in an accident at an early age, but I never knew the family nickname for him until I saw it engraved on his headstone! I also didn't know details about an entire branch of the family until I searched the cemetery database seeking my young uncle and found that my great grandmother's sisters and brothers happened to be buried there too!
Life and death...these are the underlying themes of all ancestry and family tree searches. There are few more top notch resources relating to these times, and they are the subject for the next blog.
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