Keeping a Family History Journal

By Dorothy Seehausen

I believe if any of us Family Historians think back far enough we can remember the first time the genealogy bug took hold. It’s one of those unforgettable firsts, like your first kiss, or first car. For me, it was the day my mother invited me to tramp around City Cemetery in Farmer City Illinois taking rubbings of the Meliza family tombstones. I had a No. #2 pencil and a spiral notebook for writing names, dates and other pertinent information as my mother called them out to me. I was about 16, the age when kids begin to see their parents as the grown-ups they really are, when our toys and crayons and coloring books end up in a shoebox on the closet shelf, replaced by the trappings of pop culture and shopping trips to the mall. It was the thrill of the hunt, and the excitement of unraveling the mysteries of my family as these new adult curiosities began to take hold.

I felt rather like Dorothy pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz. I was finally old enough to know the family secrets. Little did I know there would be so many. And how cleverly they would be hiding!

I look back fondly on the beginnings of my family history journey, not realizing at the time my mother was passing down the gift of her own curiosity and love of our family. She was what I would describe as an unassuming person, her vocation as a librarian very much personified in her simple manners and gentle way of approaching life.

Early beginnings are a great way to start a family history journal.