What is it about railway stations that conjures up ghosts of the past? I'm standing on the platform in Pastavy (or Postavy), deep in the Belarussian countryside, almost exactly 100 years since my friend Stu Seidel's grandfather, Julius Seidel, stood on this same platform (or one very like it) and boarded a train to start a new life in the New World.
Like an ever-increasing number of people, we have a growing interest in our families' origins. But also because, as journalists, we can't help but be aware that migration is one of the biggest challenges facing the world we live in. So it's only natural that as the son and grandson of immigrants, we're irresistibly tempted to use our own families' pasts as a way of examining the present and the future.
These basic rules fit so very well with what we, as genealogy and family historian fans should be practicing in our own communities if we want to attract more folks, especially family members, to our shared love of working on our genealogy and our passion for understanding our family history and ancestors.
Ah yes, it's summertime! A time for family gatherings of all sorts! Family reunions, picnics, and impromptu get togethers of all sorts! Each and every one of these can be a perfect time for your genealogy and family history story-gathering efforts! Stories, memories, tidbits, and more are the perfect way to enhance your family tree!
The genealogy community is, by and large, a very sociable, caring, and sharing one. While we all enjoy the vast amounts of materials that are out there for us to access electronically (so free and some not-so-free) it is important to remember that we, as genealogists, each need to pay-it-forward every so often.
"Scott. You look like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Lighten up, kiddo!" I must have heard this phrase from my parents a million times. Now as I spend my career working in the field of genealogy at Onward To Our Past®, I think it is an apt phrase for many who pursue their ancestry, genealogy, and family history.
My granddad died a year ago. We've been clearing out his papers. Like so many men of his generation (he was born in 1921), his early adult life was cut around the events of the Second World War. And, like many of his generation, his was not the first experience of war-service in the family. Amongst the papers he left, we also came across documents and letters about his own father's service in what became the First World War...
My biggest breakthroughs, most significant finds, and most amazing discoveries have all come from not who I already knew, but from new associates, allies, mentors, and researchers who I had never known before I employed my system of casting the widest net possible whenever I hit a bumpy patch in my work.
Recently I started thinking more and more that I needed to expand my efforts to something even broader. I wasn't sure what it might be, but I knew I was developing an itch to take a step up and undertake a project something that would not only meet my interests, but also to make a difference to folks far beyond my direct reach.