Presentation Notes: 2007-2008

Brick Walls and Passing Down Records

General Meeting Discussion led by Herb Skelly - February 13, 2008

Notes by David Martin & Chris Geanacopoulos

[The scheduled presenter, Mr. Chris Skelly, was unable to be at the meeting because of weather problems. In his place, Vice-President Herb Skelly led a sharing of ideas for surmounting "brick walls" in genealogy and how we might pass our work on to future generations. A number of interesting suggestions were made.]

A consistent theme in nearly all suggestions for getting beyond brick walls was persistence, persistence, and persistence. Never give up.

Some of the more interesting suggestions and experiences were -

Records - don't overlook deeds as souces of information and clues. Look at original church records for baptisms which occur at an advanced age for the individual, not just when they are young.

Networking - via letters, meetings, Internet message boards and mailing lists can be a way to let others know what you're working on and the specific difficulties you're encountering.

Photographs - make copies of photographs and spread them around. Look for people outside the family who also may be able to identify people, places, or events in your family photos.

Images from the Internet - you may be surprised at how many photos of places and household items you will find on Internet auction sites such as e-Bay. These can be an unexpected source of clues.

Small-town used bookstores and gift shops - give in to the temptation to linger in small-town used bookshops and gift stores, where you might happen upon something that gives you the clue you need.

Then there's always the supernatural - one member told of two instances where "mysterious forces" seemed to supply the answer. A critical book is misplaced in a repository, but falls off the shelf behind you.... An ancestor appears at the foot of your bed in the middle of the night and gives you the clues you need....

The question of what to do with our genealogical records to pass them along to others was also discussed. If no family member is interested in working with them, they can be given to a genealogical society such as NEHGS or to a historical society. The LDS Church may also be interested in microfilming the records. Name Societies may also be interested. It was also recommended that researchers might send pedigree charts to all the younger generation, to pique their interest. Most important is to put one's genealogical information in some book form which can then be easily passed along to other family members.

Photographs - Be sure to label your photographs carefully on the back of originals. One member suggested that you can also label scanned photos using FotoTagger, which lets you add the name and an arrow pointing to the person or obect in the picture.

Another member emphasized that in many cases mere identification of an heirloom or person or object in a picture may not be enough to carry the real meaning down through subsequent generations. You you should also capture the stories that surround the object, the photograph and the people and objects in them. Knowing the "stories" about hierlooms and photos (and even our own genealogy records) will help ensure that future generations take as much care in preserving them as we did in assembling them.

No matter where the results of your work end up, it is important to label your boxes of materials inside and out. Leave instructions inside each box for what's in there and how it is to be handed down or preserved.

See the Presentation Notes Index for summaries of other presentations given at the Society's monthly meetings.