My Start In Genealogy

[Originally posted 5 January 2018]

This is the first week of the Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge of writing about the results of our ancestry research. This week’s challenge is titled “Start”. OK, start what?  I guess the best place to start is at the beginning with how I became interested in genealogy.

I got my interest in genealogy from my mother. Serious work on finding our ancestors began sometime in the early  to middle 1960s after reading through a copy of the Dinwiddie Clan Records of 1902  and 1952.  I was fascinated by the history of that one branch of our family.  As I knew so little family history outside of my immediate family and that of my first and second cousins, I latched on to the hierarchy of the records and the historical panorama all those names represented. I just knew I was Scotch-Irish, descended from David Dinwiddie. Fast forward about 50 years and through a whole lot of technological advances and my DNA Ethnicity results show only 10%Scotch/Irish/Welsh. OK, not ready for kilt and tartans, but still, it is part of me.

Mom was a letter writer.  She wrote to aunts, uncles, sisters, just about anyone she could think of to get information on more parts of the family.  Unfortunately, she did not keep copies of the letters she sent, but she saved many of the letters she got back. There was love and pain in those letters–love of family but pain in remembering some of the trials and tribulations found in most families.

We learned how to use microfilm readers; what census forms looked like and what information they provided.  As we gathered information,we slowly pieced a family history together. Try as we might, we never produced a coherent genealogy such as was written in the Dinwiddie Clan Records, but that was always our goal and the Clan book was the standard we tried to emulate.  Mostly we got a lot of notes in pretty random order.

Computer based genealogy programs have given order to our findings. On-line database searches have mostly replaced scrolling through page after page of microfilm, but nothing can replace the spark of interest I got from my mother for finding and recording the history of our family.  Although my mother is no longer with us, I think she would be amazed and pleased at what she helped start.


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