What did our great great great grandparents care about? In many ways this was the focus of the talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at RootsTech.
Many times in genealogy we only focus on going back in time as far as we can. We search for our fathers and mothers back in time and as a result the search becomes more and more difficult with each success we have.
It is a wonderful experience as we discover our ancestors and discover a little more about ourselves as we uncover the story of their lives. It has been surprising to me how many of the challenges I face in my life are common with those of my ancestors and I have found inspiration and courage in the stories of their lives.
Our focus on going backward only, however, assumes that the only child of our great great great grandparents that mattered was the one from which we are a descendant. Their focus, I am sure, just like ours is on all of their children, grandchildren, etc.
Elder Andersen called this “finding our cousins” in his talk at Rootstech. For me it is more than just an exercise in finding more individuals, however. It is the discovery of my extended family. It also can be a richer experience than simply going backwards in time.
As we research backwards in time we reach a point before photography where we often don’t know what those we find looked like. We also often are using records that give us the facts of our ancestors’ lives, but without the color of what their lives were like. Searching out the descendants of our ancestors can bring the color back to family history research as we find photos, stories, and a richer set of information about these family members.
In previous articles I have talked about tools like Puzilla that can help us to find the areas of most fruitful research. FamilySearch is currently working on a descendancy view of the Family Tree that will also help.
If you have not done any of this type of research, give it a try. You will find a richness in the records and a richness in your family that you may otherwise never have known about. You may even be able to connect with parts of your family who are living that you knew nothing about. Either way you can find yourself invigorated in the discovery of more information about your family.
Don Anderson is Sr Vice President at FamilySearch where he has responsibility for The Family History Library in Salt Lake and the 4,600 family history centers worldwide.
Read more from Don on his blog at FindYourFamily.me .