Sunday, December 29, 2013

Like Moving Away from the Painting

In my heart I am a painter. 

I don't paint much these days; it is what I studied in college, though. These days my time is filled up with work and working on my second master's degree which is a requirement for my employment. So it is all pretty much about work which I really only do to finance my desire to travel and research my family history. 

I bring up painting because I learned a very important life lesson from painting you must step away from your work in order to see, as it were, the big picture. You could spend all your time working on one precise detail only to look back and see it is in the wrong place; that this one little section is fabulous and the rest is shit. In fact, when I was taught how to paint I was instructed to take a very specific stance; to never stand behind the canvas with both feet together - no, never! You have to keep one foot in front of you (in my case my left foot) and the other foot behind you so can easily change your perspective; forward and back, constantly moving.

This concept of distancing for clarity also directly relates to why I love to travel and research my family history. If you want to better understand the world you live in and the family surrounding you, leave and go back over and over again until you can see it clearly.

Which brings to me to the point of today's post. I have taken a hiatus from researching my own family history. Yes, I did the DNA testing and have also made my sister, father, and grandmother drool into test tubes but I have not really been tracking down family history records. I have connected with some of my DNA matches but I have not been collecting documentation for myself. I've been reading about DNA as a genealogy research tool and... 

I've been working on someone else's family tree. 

Yes, I confess I do this from time to time. I like to do it. I've done it for several friends and co-workers. Like moving away from the painting it gives me perspective.

My gene pool has been on this side of the proverbial pond for a long long time; meaning, many branches of my family have resided in the Unites States long before the United States existed. By working on the family tree of a gentleman who's relatives arrived in the U.S. in the late 1800s early 1900s I've come to realize I KNOW how to research New York resources like nobody's business. When it comes to accessing European resources - which do exist - I don't know much. 

Typical American, right? I don't know anything about anyone's history but my own. Shame, shame, shame. 

Yes, of course, I have dabbled in French Canadian research but that is just New-York-light if you ask me; it's just over the boarder there. I could walk there if I didn't know how to drive. Big Whoop! Researching cousins have provided me with documentation for my few immigrant ancestors - German and Austian/Czech. And well, I did look at a few Italian records for someone once - - once.

I think it is high time I expand my genealogical researching skills into European territories no matter how taxing it may be. I look forward to the challenge of taking this new tree as deep into European history as I can. And hey, who knows, maybe it will help me to understand my own ancestry better. At the very least I am sure I will dig up dirt on someone else's family for once; because, come on, I can't be the only one this filthy in family history.

1 comment:

  1. I think probably the hardest thing about working with European records is the language barrier - I had to learn a few important words in German AND the different way Germans wrote letters back in the day but it was worth it! I am in love with German record keeping, just fyi - those people are a genealogist's dream lol