By Nancy Battick
November is the month we traditionally give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Genealogists should also give thanks to our own unique set of blessings. So, here’s my list of genealogical thanks.
I’m grateful for the invention of the internet and all the sites online that allow me to research from home and locate reliable information. Remember researching in libraries, town offices, or by mail? Now, much of that can be done from the comfort of your own home.
I’m also grateful to the pioneers who gave us photography so I’m able to see the faces of many of my ancestors and relatives who died long before I was born. Each time I read a rough description of an ancestor who existed before photography, I give thanks for the wonderful science that allows us to see members of our family long gone.
I’m equally thankful for the creators of genealogical software which allows me to hold material on so many ancestors at my fingertips. Once we had to do all this on paper with multiple charts and file folders. I still have many files but now I can retrieve data on an ancestor with a keystroke. Plus, I’m thankful that my software allows me to determine relationships quickly without referring to a relationship chart and counting generations to find a second cousin three times removed.
This also means I’m thankful we have computers. I can’t imagine life without mine and I’m writing this column on one right now. I also communicate via email with my editor and other genealogists. No more letters and long waits for responses.
I’m thankful for all those genealogists who have shared material with me over the years, kept me on the right track, and gave of their time. I couldn’t have done it without you. I try to pay that forward by helping others and sharing the information I have.
I mustn’t forget the scientists who discovered DNA. It’s opened a new world for genealogists. Without it our knowledge of our ethnicity would be confined to documents and family stories. Now we can learn about our heritage back hundreds and even thousands of years.
I’m also thankful for the wonderful staff at the Maine State Department of Disease Control and Prevention, especially Donna, who has handled all my requests for vital records over the years. I’ll make that a ditto for the staff at the Maine State Archives. Their patience and ability to access information is priceless.
I’m thankful beyond words for my blessed husband, who’s encouraged me in my genealogical journey, supported the projects I’ve undertaken, and listened to my stories of tangled family lines, missing information, and all the mysteries and “brilliant” discoveries I’ve made.
Finally, I’m grateful to all of you who read my column and those who have told me you enjoy it. That’s a psychic paycheck richer than rubies and is so appreciated.
Thank you all and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.
Columnist Nancy Battick of Dover-Foxcroft has researched genealogy for over 30 years. She is past president of the Maine Genealogical Society, author of several genealogical articles and co-transcribed the Vital Records of Dover-Foxcroft. Nancy holds an MA in History from UM and lives in DF with her husband, Jack, another avid genealogist. Reader emails are welcome at email@example.com.