Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A New Branch on the Family Tree

A wedding is a lovely event for everyone, but for genealogists it holds a special place in the heart:  You have lots of family members gathered in one place, and you are adding new members to the family tree!

This past Saturday I was in Maryland for my brother's wedding.  All four of my father's children were there, which made him as happy as can be.  Other family members also attended, and there was lots of catching up all around, along with plenty of photos (my father is a photograhy nut, and my nephew just got a BFA in photography).  Once I get copies I have to make sure all those photos are labeled!!

My mother passed away several years ago, but my brother included her in the ceremony in a way I've never seen before.  When he walked up the aisle, he placed a rose on a chair in the front row to symbolize her presence at the wedding.  I thought that was a wonderful way to remember someone who could not be there.

The choice of wedding date also was affected by my mother.  She was born on November 11, and that was one of the days considered for the wedding.  In deference to her birthday, my brother and sister-in-law chose to have the wedding the day after that.

My new sister-in-law is very sweet and I'm happy to have her as a member of the family.  As a genealogist, I of course took the opportunity to talk to as many of her relatives as possible to start building that new branch of the tree.  I'm lucky in that her father has a strong interest in family history and remembered quite a bit about his side of the family.  He also wants to do more research, and I said I would be happy to help him.

Because my father has good-quality cameras, I was able to bypass waiting to get a copy of the marriage license and certificate for my files.  Right after the minister signed everything, he allowed my father to take digital photos of the certificates.  Oh, the joys of modern technology!

Any family gathering is an opportunity to talk to your relatives and to find out more about your family history.  Sit down with older members of the family and let them talk about their memories.  Ask questions that you've been wondering about.  Bring a digital camera and get copies of things such as the marriage certificate or the photos that are being handed around.  If you take photos of the event, don't forget to note who is who in them, so that you're not looking at it five years from now and wondering who those people are.  And write down your memories of the event to add to the family story.


  1. This is a great story - and good advice. Especially as we are nearing the holidays, it's just good practice to take a camera and notebook to any family gathering. You never know what you might learn.

  2. I almost blew my opportunity this time -- I didn't have any paper or pen with me! But I scrounged around and found some, then went and spoke with everyone. I left the photographs to the others.


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