Family History Online: As a family we recently had the sad experience of losing two close family members who were an important part of the family. One death was expected, the other totally unexpected. Like all deaths in the family, especially at Christmas time, these can be difficult to deal with and grief has many sides to it. However, I don’t want to focus on this aspect of the whole experience. Instead, I hope I can draw something positive out of this.
When someone dies, it’s like the words of a song by Cinderalla, ‘Don’t know what you got till it’s gone’. You suddenly wish you had spent more time with them, asked them tons of questions about their life and written down or somehow recorded funny or interesting stories about them. I guess this partly explains the explosion in interest about family history. Ancestry.com and other family history sites have millions of subscribers. In the process of course they make a lot of money in subscription fees, though many would argue that its worth it as such sites have revolutionised the task of researching one’s family tree.
The internet not only makes it possible to research your actual family tree, by which I mean the facts such as when your ancestor was born, married, or died etc, but other information including photographs and maps showing where they lived. Anyone who has delved into their family history online you will know that it can become an addiction. I have found myself spending several hours following various lines of enquiry and checking possible links in my family tree.
Another aspect to researching your family history online is that it reconnects you with family members, some whom you never knew existed. It can also help bring you closer to family members you already know and maybe even see fairly often, as you share information and resources.
So, I have to give thanks for the revolution in family history research that the internet has brought about. More than that though I give thanks for the lives of two special people who shall always be missed. At least now their memory will live on, not just in ours but online as I and others add their stories to that vast repository online.