"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, 20 February 2012

On my new calendar

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve recently been putting a lot of my energy into a few different genealogy projects. Since I wrote my posts On writing it all down, I’ve found record-keeping has been on my mind, and I’ve been inspired to experiment with new ways of documenting and presenting my research.
You might have noticed the new calendar feature on my blog (see left!)
This was one of the new things I decided to try last week, after I realised that I’d ‘missed’ an anniversary – the birth and marriage of my great-grandmother Victorine Hayward on 16 February 1916 and 1931 respectively. I thought it might be nice to pop some reminders into my calendar, for sentimental reasons, and perhaps for blogging reasons too, but then I thought it would be great if I could share these on the blog as well, and so the calendar was born. Hopefully any family members reading will find it an informative and useful tool!
It is still a work in progress. It currently records a selection of births, marriages and deaths for my direct line, up to roughly the 4x great-grandparent mark and where I know the exact dates. There are still some to add, and I also intend to put baptisms on there in due course.
It was easy to do using one of the blog widgets, and it is a fairly quick and enjoyable task. Alongside the calendar, I began a spreadsheet recording the exact dates I currently have for each ancestor, generation by generation, because I don’t currently have anything as straightforward of this. Again, this only tackles the direct line at the moment.
I have found in the course of these current projects that each new method of recording reveals something different to me. So, what did I learn from my calendar / spreadsheet?
Firstly, there are some dates that are significant to more than one line of the family – albeit in different years. For example, 11 July is the anniversary of both my grandfather’s birthday and the marriage of my 3x great-grandparents.
I also realised that I tend to think of all of my dates and my lines quite separately rather than how events relate to one another.  For example, I forget that same generation absolutely doesn’t mean same age. My grandparents were born between 1909 and 1938 (notice that my oldest grandparent is in fact older than my great-grandmother Victorine, mentioned above!)  This then skews my entire tree, so that each generation of my maternal line tends to be born some twenty or thirty years earlier than the equivalent generation on my paternal line. Although this isn’t drastically new to me, these tiny little reminders adjust my perspective a little, and you never know what new discoveries might result.
Lastly, I realised how lax I’ve been about recording specific dates in general. I’m particularly bad with death dates, probably because they mark the end of an ancestor’s story – far less appealing than the beginning! It’s a very bad habit, and one which I am determined to correct; after all, if you don’t know when an ancestor’s story ends, how do you know when to stop looking for them?
L x

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