Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Attributed to the mother of H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
When I am teaching others about family history and they are concerned about how to get started, I tell them to "start with themselves". I have been wanting to write a family history related blog for a long time and today is the day that I am finally starting it. I have struggled with what I wanted my first post to be; as I have a long list of topics I want to blog about. I finally realized, just as I tell those I teach, I need to start with myself and my story.
As a young teen in the early 1980s, I loved playing computer games. We had a Commodore 64 and my all-time favorite game was Dungeon of the Algebra Dragons. In 1984, my father acquired a copy of PAF 1.0 for him to start electronically keeping track of his family history. In order to have more time for computer games, I was enticed into entering family names into PAF. My father was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had spent nearly two decades (at this point) trying to track down his family history. I quickly entered in the information he had for his family and then moved on to entering in the information my mother had on her family. She had LDS pioneer ancestors and some amazing biographical sketches and photos about them. I was intrigued to learn about their lives. They quickly became my friends.
One day as I was reading a story about my 4th Great-Grandparents, Elisha Hurd and Lucy Simmons Groves, I was amazed to find out that they were called to settle and establish the area in which I was living. My parents had individually moved to this area to attend college and they did not know the story of these ancestors. I promised myself as a young teen that I would know the history of all my ancestors and I would pass those stories, lessons, emotions, and memories to my children. That my children would know their heritage.
Also during this time, and perhaps even earlier as a young child, I would listen to amazing genealogy stories told during testimony meeting by Hilda Mary Woodford Fife. She had a deep Australian accent and was in her early 80s and her stories were captivating to me: climbing high churchyard brick walls in Scotland, chasing down a copy of William Shakespeare's will, and doing research for Church President David O. McKay. I was amazed that a little old lady could climb walls! It wasn't until just recently that I learned that she had these amazing adventures when she was much younger. Her stories were captivating to me like the Nancy Drew mysteries I was reading at the time. Wow! To be a real life detective and mystery solver. I chose to do a school biography project on Hilda and I loved being in her home interviewing her about genealogy. Looking back over all my experiences related to genealogy and family history, I feel that Hilda was unknowingly my mentor. I will share more about Hilda in another post.
My love for "genealogy" - what I prefer to call "family history" - grew and when I was 14 years old I attended my first genealogical seminar. My mother dropped me off at the conference as I was too young to drive. I still have the conference flyer, program, handouts, and some of my handwritten notes. I took classes on using a computer to do genealogy, using the branch genealogical library, basic genealogy for beginners, and German individual consultation.
In the past 30 years I have created family organizations, planned and carried out large and small family reunions, hunted for cousins all across the country, designed and installed a headstone, taught the LDS Institute Family History course (piloted it in 1995), served for numerous years in ward and stake family history callings, and have taught others the ins and out of family history for 20 years. In this past year I have begun presenting (teaching) at regional and national family history conferences. Next week, I will present a session at RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah.
I look forward to sharing on this blog all the things I have learned in the past 30 years and the things I am still learning. I hope you will join me in this adventure.