Family History Alphabet: G is for guts, gumption and generosity


Family History AlphabetAlona Tester from Gould Genealogy has proposed a Family History through the Alphabet series over the coming 26 weeks. I decided that my theme would be the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents you bring to your research. This week’s focus is on G and a couple of these attributes I’ve already highlighted in earlier letters.

G is for Guts and Graft:

We flippantly say “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” but it’s not a bad idea to keep in mind with family history. As your research reaches one brick wall after the other, or you can’t find a clue (or person) that you’re desperate to locate, you need guts to persevere and keep on going, to look laterally and see what else you can find.

You’ll also need your courage when you encounter your ancestors’ faults, foibles and behaviour that you don’t like or approve of, or that may have got them into trouble. Not forgetting that times change, attitudes change and how they wrote or spoke or acted may no longer be acceptable to our generation. We need the courage to give them acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness.

Research is also pure hard graft at times as we wade through one record set after another, track another “rabbit into its burrow” or unearth some hidden piece of information. Guts plus graft can work wonders in family history as in the rest of life.

G is for Gumption or plain common sense

Why gumption? When you’re stumped by a research question, it can be really helpful to think what records exist today and then translate that to what might have been there in the past and go hunting. It’s not just our generations that have left a paper trail in bureaucracy.

Gumption is also the ability to distil reality from the fascinating but unlikely stories that we inherit; to know that there may be a grain of truth in there and go looking in the records to either prove or disprove the story.

G is for Glory Glow

Well not really, there’s not too much glory in the family history business, but I liked the combination of guts, gumption and glory!

However you will definitely get a warm glow when you help someone crack a problem, given them a photo or some information about their family or write the family stories so the rest of your family members can learn more about their ancestors.

It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to bring generations of your family “to life” for their descendants who’ve previously known little or nothing about those who came before them. When I published my Kunkel family history it made me so happy when people told me how much they’d learned about these hidden ancestors who’d been a complete unknown to them.

G is for ***GENEROSITY***

Generosity is so important in family history. The kindness of others far away who help us solve a problem. Or the generous sharing of photos of stories about different family members. The generosity of people who share their expertise with us in specialised talks or their hard-earned knowledge about IT or writing etc through their blog posts. The generosity of people who volunteer in family history societies and libraries.  The generosity of someone like Thomas MacEntee who set up Geneabloggers so we can all link up. The generosity of all those who read our posts about family and family history, and their kindness in making comments to encourage us to keep going. The generosity of all those people who indexed dutifully in the pre-digital age and even now with digital records. Really I could go on and on and on….

Where would be without generosity in our genea-circles?

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17 thoughts on “Family History Alphabet: G is for guts, gumption and generosity

  1. Hi, Pauleen – another Great Gathering of Genealogical G’s. I love the way we are all entering into the spirit of this challenge and it is amazing what people are coming up with.

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  2. Pingback: Family History Through the Alphabet - G is For ... | Genealogy & History News

  3. All very true once again but the one that really hits home is “generosity”. I have been overwhelmed at times by the generosity of unknown people and relatives since beginning my search for information in earnest. A cousin that I barely knew, gave me my great grandmothers crystal cabinet and some glassware belonging to my grandmother when she downsized her home. She knew that I had fond childhood memories of lollies being hidden behind a photo on the crystal cabinet and knew that I was interested in preserving family history and would treasure the items. I am so grateful, amazed and thankful for her generosity.

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  4. I love your ‘G’ words, they’re all so appropriate, especially GENEROSITY. We are a friendly, sharing bunch, and we learn SO MUCH from mingling (either online or in person) with other genie friends.

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