I would like to leave a legacy for future generations so that they have a basic story about our family’s history. My parents knew little of their relatives earlier than their grandparents. Now, the internet has made genetic research so generally available that I have been able to work back through the generations, in some cases to the first immigrants to American shores in the 17th century. I hope that through this blog and my other publications, this family history will remain present and available to future generations.
I have a passion for learning about past generations because I find that knowledge about my origins gives me a fuller sense of my own identity. Genetic and cultural influences get passed down through the generations, and provide a context for us as individuals functioning in the world today.
The grandchild generation, I hope, will find these family stories helpful as they study American history. I have written about our ancestors within the context of historical events, such as the Revolutionary War or the great westward expansion of the American people. The juxtaposition can bring both the history and the ancestors to life, and make these somewhat shadowy historical figures seem more personally connected to our world today.
Since retiring from my work as a social work professor in 2002, I have tried to communicate what I have learned about our family history through various writings. One such effort has been a series of family reports, giving brief biographical sketches of some of our more interesting and colorful ancestors. These I have shared as email attachments among the family.
Recently my son-in-law, Dave Brenner, a computer whiz, artist, photographer, and highly talented designer, created a blog for these family reports. He has helped to make the entries more interesting by improving the quality of the pictures and photos that do so much to bring the written text to life. I am very grateful to him for taking my dissemination efforts to the next level, using the wonderful communication properties of the internet.
The blog format allows several innovations that should make the family reports more widely available and easier to use. They are all in one place and easy to find, and are organized in various ways to help users find what they want – by historical era, family name, and so on. The inclusion of Ancestor Fan Charts, which can be accessed by hot links, should help users understand where a particular ancestor fits into the family tree, and how the user is directly related to that ancestor.
This blog is an experiment for me and a work in progress. Please check back every month or so to see how it is progressing. I welcome any comments you wish to send me about the blog, and would love to hear your suggestions for what you would like to see on it.