My House Plants and Your Genealogy

When I returned from the 50th Anniversary Conference of the Kansas Genealogical Society, held in Dodge City…  And from my research trip to Wichita KS to photograph family sites for  a Lebanese family history I am completing…  And from my excursion into Oshkosh WI to update my research and photograph family sites on a second family history underway…

I discovered that several of my many house plants were a little the worse for the wear–I start new plants all the time by putting cuttings into water to grow roots and into smaller pots to take root.

These cuttings I water frequently during the week and talk to them every day.  They flourish.

When I am away,  they wilt.   Leaves turn yellow.   Heads droop.   Water evaporates.   And if I place too many cuttings in the same bottle or pot,  their roots intertwine and intermix and turn sour and decay.

So I water them first.  Cut the dead leaves away.  Wash and clean the roots.  And talk to each one.  And they perk right up within an hour or two.

I depend upon the well-being of my plants to show me that the air I breathe indoors is clean and safe.  For I am an asthmatic.  Dirty air filled with chemical fumes from household sprays and perfumes, and molds  from extra moisture and garbage contents trigger an attack that could mean my life.

Like your genealogy.  Especially if I am the one doing the research.

Do you ever talk to your pedigree?  Examine a document and talk to the people mentioned or described?  I do.  And often, I get answers.  Whether from the sound of my own voice in my ears.  Or from the brain cells who hear the questions.  Or from the insight and inspiration that comes from careful study of the details.

The review of these details often ensures that I match unknown evidence that I find in the records to your known information and data.  Without a match, there is no concrete proof.

And I never push the “make it fit” button.  If it doesn’t fit, I look again at the sources.  Review the library catalogs.  Seek more family histories.  Look more diligently and closely for places that others have made it fit.  When family genealogists work together, do you have any idea how many times they push the “make it fit” button?

One of the evidences I look for all the time–each and every research session on your family stuff–is the way to evidence does not fit–exactly.  Peoples lives do not always fit.  Discrepancies are human and normal and found in all genealogies.  With skill and with experience, we account for these. We resolve them with additional evidence.

For example, have you searched the 1860 census and found only initials for the given names?  Then when you search the 1850 census for the same family, you have to guess if the given names match the initials.  Sometimes they do.  Sometimes they don’t.  Look for other sources that name the family members.  Do they help to resolve the differences?  Explain or describe the nicknames that the initials stand for?

I store my research files on your genealogy and on all the genealogies that I am currently working on in plastic bins with pendaflex hanging folders and acid-free plastic sleeves.  Not in file cabinets.  Too many dangers to file cabinets.  Oh, I have lots of file cabinets where I store research guides and aids and locations of documents and sources and research trip brochures and family history information of all kinds.

If there is a problem of any kind–water, bugs and spiders, excess moisture, or no moisture at all–I can move those bins quickly.  They store original research.  And security copies of past reports.  And negatives for the photos I have taken.  And your instructions to me about what you are seeking on your ancestors.  And sometimes your only copy of a record or document on your family–your family knowns.

I consider it a sacred trust to preserve these things.  So I want to be able to move them quickly if necessary.  I have a truck with a bed and a secure back seat.  I could load the bins into my truck and move them to safety–quickly.

You can’t move file cabinets quickly.

So, as I clean and care for my plants, I think about the research reports I am working on and the safe storage I provide.  And I want you to consider these factors too.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Soon I will discuss the in-born and acquired philosophies that guide your research work and often determine your success.  Or lack of it!  Stay tuned in.

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