Thursday, March 11, 2010

Too Much Information: Not Possible!

We are just finishing closing up my father-in-laws estate. He didn’t have much of value, but his memories and memorials are priceless. He saved the important stuff. He stashed away the news clippings about his children; the photos and slides of family vacations and family reunions; and the records about family births and deaths. The challenge now is going through the material and identifying all of the characters and individuals involved in this man’s life. As the person with experience in Family History and Genealogy, the job becomes mine: to save these records and identify everyone mentioned in them.

The good news is that Mark was an engineer, so he kept some very precise records. Many of his slide collections are labeled. I can identify the summer vacation in Valley Forge and Aunt Jen’s new car. But, who is the young kid playing football with Les and Todd? Is he some unimportant neighbor? Is he a visiting cousin? I need to know, but no one can really tell me. And here lies the difficulty. The secondary players in these scenes are unidentified. Unfortunately, they may never be identified, because we just don’t know.

This essay is evolving into a rant about there never being adequate records to tell a complete story. And, I think this is every historian’s complaint. So, as you create those records and documents those photographs and memories of life, keep in mind that there is no such thing as too much information. Even the most minute details help tell the story. So keep writing those memories and expanding those records. Include everyone in your life history.

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