"The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future." --Stephen Ambrose, 1936-2002
If you are a nostalgic and curious person like I am, then you've probably dabbled in genealogy. After all, who wouldn't want to dig up all of those dirty secrets? Who knows...you could have descended from royalty! Nostalgic and curious people find nothing strange or abnormal about lurking through cemeteries to find the hidden headstone with the birth and death dates of relatives that would complete their pedigree charts. They would also find looking through dresser drawers, closets, and attics exhilarating!
Sometimes you just don't know where to begin. If you had been exposed to family photos and stories at a young age, then you most likely have a starting off point. Case in point--me. I was fortunate to have all four grandparents in my life until I was twelve-years-old. In those first twelve years of my life, I have seen photos, heard names, imagined stories in my head through my own made up pictures, and was exposed to a second language--Italian--however, they only spoke it when they didn't want me to know something.
My maternal grandmother, Giuseppa (Josephine) 1913-2001, was the quintessential reason why I had an itch for genealogy. When I spent summer days at her and my grandfather's house, a weekly ritual would be to take down the dusty box of old family photos and be educated on who the people were, where they came from, and what inevitably happened to them. I was truly fascinated by the serious and stalwart expressions of my ancestors. Why was everyone so serious? Didn't anyone ever smile?
Fast-forward to the current me...a 38-year-old middle school history teacher...hmmm...seems rather symbolic, don't you think? Anyway, for the past four years, I have seriously and officially taken on the role of "family historian / sleuther". I have researched both sides of my family and, within four years, have traced back 13 generations on my mother's side and 9 generations on my father's side. Not too shabby for someone who is not a professional genealogist. What do I consider myself? I consider myself a professional researcher. I have a desire to know more and to find out as much as I can about my past so I can improve and solidify my future.
The purpose of this blog is not to bore you with my family tree--although that would come into play every once in a while. The main purpose is to help others who have always wanted to uncover their family's past, but didn't quite know how to begin. I will share my hints and tips as much as possible. I hope I can, in some way, open the door to the past in other's lives. Happy hunting!