A friend and I have been working on posting his lineage on my website over the past year. He became interested in genealogy several years ago and as many genealogical researchers find, '”things happened” that helped him uncover a lot of his lineage.
A phone call from a heretofore unknown cousin happened within days of the start of his research. Within thirty minutes he had several pages of notes about his family and the first of his brick walls had already been reduced to dust.
It only got better from there as more information, photos, documents and stories about his ancestral families surfaced seemingly everywhere he looked.
If you haven’t experienced serendipity in your genealogical quest, you will to some extent or the other. It happens. Old hands in genealogy expect it to happen at least once in every branch of the family and often many times as the seemingly impossible contact or bit of needed information arrives in an email that arrived from out of the blue.
Working with my friend has extended over many years. The demands of life often reduce his free time for research to near zero, but when it becomes available again and he starts research in earnest, '”things happen” once more and door to more discoveries of information and long lost cousins swing open.
In my many years of genealogical research, I’ve found this story repeating itself over and over and over. It happens in my personal research and it happens with almost all of the cousins and friends that I encounter in the quest along the research road.
Has it happened to you? If not, make a concerted effort in your research, then make a few contacts that just “feel right” and expect something, large or small to come along and help you in your quest too.
I often talk and write about the power of multiple researchers collaborating in the same family research goals. Two heads are almost always better than one. Three even better than that and so on.
We all have unique perspectives, resources and research skills that when blended with others working toward a common goal seem to magically grow to almost mythical scale.
I’m always in awe of the power of active cousins research teams. Years ago, the teams I created were great but we had to wait for the Postal Service of our respective countries or locations to carry word of the treasure we’d found to each other. Coordination of our efforts felt like we were moving through molasses.
Today, we talk to each other “face to face” on Skype, Google Voice and all of the other video communication venues in our quiver. We use file sharing sites like DropBox or even sites like my own where I’ve created private sandboxes for the team to post, change, discuss and massage our finds.
At times, it almost feels as if we’ve lit a string of firecrackers because the finds of our collective efforts are coming so fast. You don’t even want to go to bed because the cousins in Europe, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand are posting their finds and discussing related stories while you are asleep. None of us want to miss out on some of these discussions. They are too full of ‘magic’ discoveries, pieces of information that solves puzzles and adventures in cemeteries. I suppose you could deem the energy in these discovery swarms as ‘kinetic’ because of the impact they have in not only finding ancestral records but also on the attitudes and energy of the team.
If you aren’t part of a cousins team yet, create one. There are other descendants of your ancestors who are also working on their genealogy. Look for them on the web. Post comments and your contact email address on genealogy sites and you’ll find each other …. and then …. put your collective minds and skills to work and level the brickwalls and discover lost tales in your own ancestral trees.