Saturday, November 14, 2009
What the Carnival of Genealogy Means to Me
The following post is submitted for the 84th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.
The first Carnival of Genealogy I ever participated in was the first one for this year, and the subject was New Year’s resolutions for genealogy research and blogging. “This is a good idea,” I thought. “It will be a reminder and a prod to do what I need to do with genealogy.” To keep my goals within the realm of the attainable, I made only two resolutions: to transcribe more materials and to become more technically proficient at blogging. Then, at the last minute, I added “commit one memory a week to paper [which] will show up on the blog for ‘Memory Monday.’”
That last-minute resolution was the most successful of the three and ended up being one of the main recurring features of this blog. And it has resulted in something that I would never have accomplished otherwise: writing down my own life story for my family and descendants. Despite all the best intentions, this is something I never would have done. On the other hand, it has always been easier for me to break large tasks down into smaller ones. And by taking one small subject, event, or memory at a time, I have been able to focus on making that account more immediate and, I hope, more “memorable.”
The theme of my first Carnival of Genealogy entry was significant because it has helped me to set research goals and plan and focus my research more effectively. Even COG topics that deal with the actual stories of our ancestors’ lives compel us to try to write up research results in a way that will be interesting and appealing, rather than just a dry enumeration of facts. It’s not enough just to find the information on our ancestors; we have to pass it on and do it in way that will engage our readers, make them reflect, and make them want to know more.
Not every post I have submitted for the Carnival of Genealogy has been as artfully written as I would have liked, but all in all, I have a sense of accomplishment when I reflect on what I’ve written over the course of the past year.
There have been 12 Carnivals of Genealogy in which I have participated (clicking on “Carnival of Genealogy” under “Labels” below will bring them all up). I enjoyed writing all of them and wish I could have participated in more Carnivals. My favorites were probably My Three Aunts: Nobody’s Fools, Uncle, Uncle – William Henry Lewis: A Little Man Who Stood Tall; Tinner Hill: Desegregation, Graveyards, and My Fireplace; My Mother, the High School Graduate; and More on the Fiddling Moores.
My favorite part of each Carnival of Genealogy is reading all of the different posts on the same subject. The variety of approaches taken by the different genea-bloggers is astounding: heartfelt memories, poems, spoofs, cliffhangers, you name it. This reflects the infinite possibilities of writing about our families. It reveals the truth about family history: it is fascinating.
It just so happens that the next Carnival of Genealogy is one that I will be hosting, and I am honored to wind up my first year of participation in the Carnival of Genealogy this way. The topic I have chosen is one that is near and dear to me: “Orphans and Orphans.” The first type of orphan refers to those ancestors or relatives who lost their parents when they were young. The second type of orphan would be those siblings or cousins of our ancestors whom I think of as “reverse orphans.” They are the relatives who, for whatever reason – death at a young age, never having married or had children, or having children who did not survive to provide descendants – have no direct descendants of their own, so it falls to us, their collateral relatives, to learn and write their story.