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Family Threads: Above the Trees
July 27, 2009 by shuskey
The terms “family history” and “genealogy” are often used synonymously. However, if you are reading our blog, there’s a good chance you already understand that they are more like fraternal twins – alike in many ways, but with some important albeit subtle differences. Genealogy, by definition, focuses on the search and study of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or ancestors – the physical branches on the family tree, so to speak. By comparison, family history tells the story of the events of that person, family, or group. Family history is the rain and the sunshine that keep the family tree alive. To illustrate, consider the genealogy of Lucy Fickling. Born August 1894. Parents Robert Glascow and Melinda (Rogers) Fickling. Married Wayne Hancock 1911. Nine children. Divorced 1927. Married Fredrick Roesner 1928. Died June 1982. That’s a branch on a tree. Lucy Jane Fickling was the eighth of eleven closely-spaced children born on a central Texas sharecropping farm. Half-starved and rail thin, Lucy spent most of her childhood in the arid cotton fields, her tiny hands raw and her slight shoulders aching. Musically gifted, able to skillfully play any hymn she heard on the church piano the first time, Lucy would never even learn to read music. Lucy left school at age eleven, barely completing the fifth grade, and at seventeen married a thirty-two year old itinerant preacher. Sixteen years later, she found herself abandoned, pregnant, and solely responsible for her seven – soon-to-be-eight – children, with no means of support and no family nearby. It was 1926 – the year my father was born. Now, there’s some sunshine and rain – and that’s a tree with some life in it. Family history is all about the sunshine and the rain – because family history comes from above the trees. There’s more to Lucy’s story, a lot more. But the point is, with one picture and six sentences, you now know more about my Grandma Lucy than many people will ever know about any of their own ancestors. Which brings me to our Family History Challenge o’ the Week – Try this: find a picture of someone in your family – old or new, alive or long departed – and write down six sentences about him or her. That’s it. One picture, six sentences. (They don’t even have to be long ones!) Bonus Points: Post the picture on your Family Photoloom account. Next week: Adding Notes in Family Photoloom (or, How to record those six sentences!)