My husband volunteers at the local Family History Center. Recently one of the volunteers gave him a DVD of an April 2010 conference held in Salt Lake City, A Celebration of Family History. The DVD is a wonderful compilation of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a talk by Latter Day Saints President Henry B. Eyring, a talk by Historian David McCullough, and wonderful family history research stories. In his talk, David McCullough stated he tells his students if they want to be famous, all they need to do is keep a journal. Keep a journal; write down what is happening and how you feel about it. In our increasing virtual world that information is becoming scarce.
His words have been resonating with me, because I have tried to keep a journal; in fact I have at least four almost empty journals sitting on my shelves right now. My plan for a page a day went awry when I found myself writing way too much, and so I got discouraged.
I know that through blogging I am sharing and preserving my genealogy research, but I also know I should document the other parts of my life. To do this successfully I need to develop a formula for journal writing. I will work on that and then add to my Genealogy Goals for 2011 – Keep a Journal. Wish me luck!
A Lesson Learned
I am in possession of twenty years of my great grandmother’s diaries. She started writing a diary in 1944 because of the war. I learned that she went to the small town of Jacksonville, NY each week to wrap bandages for the troops. She would document how many bandages she was able to make. Occasionally there would be a birth, marriage or death mentioned, but for the most part the information was disappointing. I knew the temperature that day, and what area of the house she cleaned. I learned that my great grandfather came over from the barn for lunch, and that their son stopped by. But as for what was going on in the community, economic, social, political, there was nothing. And there was nothing of how she felt about her life or what was happening in the world. I started to transcribe those diaries of Jessie Tucker Agard and have labeled the document, “Life on the Farm.” They begin like this:
January 5 - Rather mild -Addie [Tucker] went up to Merritt’s while Arthur went to Trumansburg. She sent a box of clothing to Asbury Park by parcel post. Addie and I went to the Red Cross with Alice. There were seven of us to make surgical dressings. I made 110. It is very interesting work. January 6 -Not very cold -Addie went to Asbury Park today. Marian and I took her to the Black Diamond at noon. I did some shopping. It got colder in the p.m. Very windy. We got home at 3:30 in time to do some extra washing. I ironed two dresses. January 7 – Cold - Cleaned the rooms for the weekend. Was too tired to go to the WCSC tea at Julia Lueder’s. Have felt like grip, but guess I am going to fight it off by being careful. Got a nice letter from Adeline. The sun has gone back almost to the big barn when it rises. January 8 - 9 a.m. 2 above zero; cold wind -Emma Kelsey’s funeral. Went to spend Christmas with her brother, Tom. All had flue. Emma taken to hospital. Had pneumonia. Baked bread, blueberry pie, hickory nut cake. Martha Schwartz gave me the hickory nuts last year. Bill, Marian and Johnnie Will went to Ithaca in p.m. Stayed to supper at LaRue’s.
I suspect that our genealogy blogs and personal journals will greatly help future historians and genealogists with their particular research.