Until this week, I didn't know there even were awards given to genealogy blogs, except maybe those given out by ISHFWE and other such organizations. But the kind writer of the Nolichucky Roots blog (a great blog to read, btw) has given me and nine other bloggers the Ancestors Approved award. This award was created by the author of the Ancestors Live Here blog, Leslie Ann, as a way to let other geneabloggers know how much their stories, tips, and tricks are appreciated.
Per Leslie Ann's instructions, upon receiving this award, I am asked to list ten things I have learned about my ancestry that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened me, and to pass it on to other geneablogs I feel are doing their ancestors proud.
I'll start with what I have learned about my ancestors. Fair warning - I tend to ramble (as the title of this blog suggests) so I won't blame you if you skim or skip these. :)
1. Their lives were far more complex and involved than I'll ever be able to fully understand. It seems every time I find a new record or newspaper article about someone, I see something about their life that hints at friendships, associations, and experiences I can only guess at.
2. How precious pictures are, and how much you can learn from them. I've blogged a couple times about the massive stock of photos taken and kept by my paternal grandmother's family, and I still have so many photos to really go back and analyze fully (there are 838, after all!). I do find myself wishing more of my ancestors had passed down photos, but I am grateful for those that have survived, both in my family and in the families of distant cousins willing to share them.
3. The effect one person's life can have on generations of their descendants. After studying Lena's life, for example, the lives of her children and grandchildren make so much more sense. Her experiences with marriage and family really affected the way her daughters' lives all turned out, which in turn affected how her granddaughters were raised, and so on down to me. Some descendants went through similar cycles of marriage, and some went in the direct opposite direction from what happened in earlier generations.
4. Not everything is on the internet, but a LOT is. Finding all those old pictures of the orphanage my grandmother and great-grandmother lived in was a shock. Those pictures took a family story and made it a historical event for me.
5. My grandparents know far more about our family than I'll be able to plumb from them, even if I sat them down and interviewed them for hours and hours and hours. It's just not fair that I can't simply download all their memories onto my hard drive, but I'm doing the best I can to capture their stories and experiences to pass on.
6. My ancestors weren't perfect. I know that should be obvious, but for the longest time I guess I was still operating under the "not in my family" delusion. It's been surprising, even shocking, to learn what some of my ancestors did.
7. One of the biggest shocks was finding out my 4th-great-grandmother, Lucinda (Berry) Harris was a slaveholder. I knew her father Benjamin Berry was, and her husband's grandfather Harrison Harris was as well. But to find that one branch of my family owned slaves right up until the Civil War started (and possibly until it ended) was a big surprise.
8. I've met some amazing cousins recently that have opened up whole new areas of research and interest for me. These cousins have details, stories, even pictures, that I never knew existed.
9. Until recently, I've been focusing on my own research. But I've also had the opportunity to work as a volunteer at the Heritage Quest Research Library in Sumner, WA, and to help out a friend that I may be related to. I really enjoy helping other people find answers to their questions and seeing them do the genealogy happy dance when they get a breakthrough.
10. The most humbling thing I've learned is - I've only begun to scratch the surface of the tip of the iceberg that is my family. I've made a lot of progress, this year especially, but every step forward shows me a whole new road to be explored, mapped, documented, and preserved. I can only hope I live long enough to get some of these roads mapped!
Now to bestow the Ancestor Approved award on the blogs I think are doing the best job. Apologies to them if they've already received it. Here they are, in no particular order:
Thanks again to Nolichucky Roots, and kudos to all these geneabloggers!