Giving a voice to the dead

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I want to tell my ancestor’s stories, but there are times when I think I don’t have enough information to write about their lives.  I may know when and where they were born, married, and died.  When I started that was enough for me, but now that I have that information, I want to know what happened in between.  What was it like to walk in their shoes, what did they do for enjoyment, what problems did the encounter.  Their lives must have been like ours with the ups and downs of everyday life.  Sometimes I’m lucky enough to find out where they worked, went to school, see the house they lived in, who their friends were, and other things that happened to them during their life.  Other times I can find very little on them.  Right now I’m working on one ancestor who at 14 years old is not living with her mother and father, but with a married sister.  When I see this, I wonder why is she living with a sister?  So the investigation starts, and I find out her father is living nearby, but is not married to her mother but to someone else.  Then I have to wonder what happened to her mother.  In further investigation, I find out her mother died when she was around five years old.  It makes me wondering what it was like for her to lose her mother at such a young age.  How did losing her mother affect the rest of her life?  I have heard stories about this ancestor that lead me to believe she was a hard-hearted woman.  So did losing her mother so young make her this way?  I also found that her father remarried two years before I find her living with her sister.  Did her father’s new wife and her not get along?  Is that why she is living with a sister?  So now a story about her life is starting to form in my head.  Will I ever know for sure that this is what happened in her life?  Probably not.  When I write her story, I will say, “She most likely lived with her sister because there was a problem between her and her step-mother.”  I will not present it as a fact. I will be giving her a voice that maybe she didn’t have back then.  Maybe she never told her children or grandchildren her story.  If she did, they certainly didn’t pass it along.  I don’t even think they knew the names of her parents.  Maybe she didn’t want her story told.  I often wonder about that and what they would think of us now writing and publishing their stories.  I hope they don’t mind!  The Daily Post: Voice

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About Gail Grunst Genealogy

Gail has been researching her own family since 1979. Her research has taken her back to 1800 Belgium and 1800 England. Gail has worked in a library for the last 20 years and has answered genealogy questions for patrons and helped patrons with their research. In addition to her degree in Library Media Technology, Gail has a two degree in Basic American Genealogy Research from the National Genealogy Society. She has done volunteer work for various Genealogy Societies. Gail teaches several Classes in Genealogy for the Round Lake Area Library, and would be happy to conduct a class for your organization. If interested in a class or if you would like a one-on-one consultation, please contact Gail. Please enjoy Gail's family History Blog

4 responses »

  1. We find family members in this situation, research them and try/want to find out more about them and their lives. Difficult and challenging to do so… I hope you can find family that may share info on this lady. Sometimes they just had to be tough to survive and move on with their lives and what was expected of them. A sad story, but not uncommon. good luck

  2. I like to think they like being remembered. I’ve often wondered about some of my ancestors – piecing together what I know and trying to figure out larger stories. I like to think I’m honouring their memory rather than infringing on their privacy.

  3. Pingback: NaPoWriMo – Day 7 – “The Endless Beauty Of An Authentic Voice” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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