Have you ever inherited genealogy notes?
You know what I mean, when late Aunt Petunia leaves you all her notes, including those documents that she got from her late Aunt Primrose, who got the family papers from her late Aunt Poppy; but nobody remembers who gave the original collective mess to her.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s really cool getting stuff like this, but it’s a migraine headache trying to figure out who wrote what and all of them without a single citation. It can almost drive one to drink — margueritas?
The fun part — insert sarcasm here, please — is trying to write citations for these notes. Ohhh, how much easier would it have been to make something up, when I was younger?
Jump back in time with me — 30 years BC (Before Children and Before Computers): It is 1982 and I am nineteen. GranDa is dead and buried; and during his “wake,” I meet the younger sister he never spoke of. Surprise, she and her daughter are fellow genealogists! A month later, I am visiting them and we all take off for Northern Ontario for the revival of the annual family reunion. It is here where I inherit a copy of said genealogy notes:
Yellowed pages held together in a wine-coloured Duo-tang. Printed with a Gestetner — a hand-crank operated copying machine, the affordable choice for small businesses and schools — the reading quality was clear for the majority of the work. Lots of drop-charts, a few pages of long narratives and two letters.
The first letter was written in 1927 by a gentleman, who was appointed “genealogist” during that first family reunion in Hamilton (Wentworth Co, ON, CAN). He urged everyone who viewed the notes to fill in whatever blanks they could, because what was collected was based upon fleeting memories from too many years ago; while the latter was written in 1966 by a lady who became secretary to the genealogist.
Back to present: the Duo-tang is long gone and the majority of yellowed paper (about an inch) with it. The notes now occupy three rooms — much to my wife’s dismay: eight banker’s boxes in the basement, a desktop computer, my e-book and an external hard-drive in the living room, a laptop and seventeen binders in the bedroom closet.
Every name got an identification tag-number. Every generation was identified with colour — limited only by how many highlighters I could borrow from my wife’s desk, when she wasn’t looking. And everything I have managed to locate was identified into a sorry-format of a citation. I understand it, but I do not think that anyone else will.