The site started one afternoon when I got a call from a storage company.
They wanted to drop off several boxes left in long term storage by my late
mother. I agreed not knowing what might be in the boxes but suspecting it
must be mostly old clothing which in fact it was. A few boxes however did
hold something of interest. I was surprised to find several old journals
belonging to my mother, some old letters written to my Great Grandfather by
his mother during WW1, newspaper articles and more. I wanted to share some
of what I'd found with my sister so i set up a very simple web page that
accessed a small database containing the WWI era letters. She was excited
and quickly read all the letters. A month or two later she asked when I was
going to add more letters. She had been checking the site periodically. To
tell you the truth I didn't really have any plans to ever add more content
and I was supposed to be looking for a job. But of course once I knew I had
a 'customer' I couldn't just let the idea die.
I don't care quite as much about when my great, great, great grandfather was
born as I do what he thought and how he related to others. I enjoy the
minutia of daily life gone by more than I enjoy knowing names and dates.
After all this is how we experience life. When I'm just looking at a list
names and dates it is hard to get a feel for who my relatives really were.
Did they have a good sense of humor? What were their passions? What shaped
their lives? These are the types
of questions that bring a person to life.
There is a lesson in the database world that is often taught to new
students. Data by itself is seldom useful until it is put into perspective.
I think that perhaps on a larger scale the same is true with genealogy. Bits
of information collected about our families are not terribly interesting
until they are put into perspective. Once family information is put into
perspective it becomes a story and that is when it all gets interesting.