Surrounded by piles of photos, prints and digital, and indebted with family facts and stories, I struggle to shape it into a sensible narrative.
Curating the family history is a challenging exercise and yet I am enthusiastic to weave it together for prosperity and for anyone who might someday wonder.
This is something that has interested me for many years and I have been on some previous fact finding missions that revealed things we didn’t know. I love to find out about our origins and the lives of our ancestors. I can name three ships that brought different branches of the family to Australia: The Hampshire, The Shand, and The Niagara. I love to see the photos of ancestors to spot the family resemblances that crop up unexpectedly.
Not a ‘scrap-booker’ by nature I think that ultimately a hand crafted personal creative book would be a beautiful result. In the meantime I have begun to do a simple storyboard using PowerPoint to set out my narrative. There are obvious important gaps that need to be filled somehow.
So I think about others in the family who have compiled remarkable genealogies that are relevant and interesting to my story. One of my father’s cousins has passed away now and I wonder where that wealth of knowledge is now. Another cousin of my husbands father must be very old now if not also passed away – where is her lovely story and impressive pedigree charts now? Another – my cousin is contactable, but that branch of the family story is well documented already, so not as pressing.
Some of the old photos are gorgeous but without captions the identities are a mystery. ‘A picture tells a thousand words’ but also presents many questions; such a who, where, when, why.
This historic photo for example is of the family of Smiths who lived in Portland Victoria Australia. One of the boys is my paternal grandfather.
Family members who knew them previously identified the others in the photo. A scribble on the back of a print states that this photo was taken in 1920 in Portland, just prior to the family being ‘separated’. The father and mother of this family are not in the photograph because they had both passed away. I know the story and it is a tragic tale that I will include in my personal family history when the time comes.
Meanwhile my investigations continue and I try to wrangle this precious pile of pictures into something interesting and useful.