Friday, September 21, 2012
"Genealogy is Like a Very Big Puzzle"
I have always liked to solve mysteries and to put together puzzles. I was making a comment on one of MyFamily.com groups of many of my West family and other related families. We have pooled our resources and what we already have learned to attempt to fill in the gaps of our family history. I suddenly wrote that it was like we were all working on one very big puzzle.
We are finding the puzzle pieces, but we need to be able to put them all together. As with puzzles, many of us start by finding the flat edged pieces to put together the outer edges (frame) and then concentrate on areas of similar characteristics putting the pieces in one by one until they all connect and the puzzle is complete. This is what we are trying to do, except it is hard to make that frame and there are so many pieces that seem to be the same! :) Also because we can not find some documented records, the pieces are not complete or some of the image of the piece was damaged (lost). No matter what, it is very hard to put together a puzzle if you do not have all of the pieces.
When we first start researching our families, there are just a few that we know who may be of help to us. As time goes on we build a network of researchers and resources. We use libraries, DNA, courthouses, friends & family, genealogical societies, the Internet. Many now are using resources like Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest, bulletin boards, USGenWeb, MyFamily.com and so many others. What we are doing are looking for the pieces of the puzzle and trying to connect the pieces.
The group I mentioned is a good sized group of cousins that are trying to find these puzzle pieces and then try to put them together as a large diverse group of people. When I work on a picture puzzle, it seems to get put together so much faster when there are several working together.
Genealogical societies provide resources to help us put together our family puzzles. Working with others who are researching the same family can increase your chances of finding missing pieces and then connecting them.
My point is that our family puzzles have been scattered about and some pieces are lost or damaged beyond recognition. We can not rely on just one resource or one person to gather most of these pieces. We need to work together as much as we can and we can put together that family puzzle. Of course, once we get that puzzle done, we start expanding the frame! Hopefully, putting together the puzzle will be fun and enlightening as you go.
- Written by JGWest