Thursday, March 01, 2012

Researching your Family tree versus Stalking – It’s A Fine Line


Back on New Year’s day I posted that I would be doing more on Genealogy and history on this blog due to commitments I had made, so again today I am posting a subject on Genealogy.

I would say that I have been researching family members that lived between Galestown and Woodland Ferry off and on since 1995. In 1995 there was not that much on the internet and it was mostly reading microfilm and tracking down printed books on family trees. Today however the internet has more information. Over the past few months this research has eventually led me to living relatives in the Wilmington area.

Part of this research commitment for this year included taking out a subscription to ancestry.com and as I have pulled up marriage licenses, death certificates, birth certificates, newspaper articles etc it made me realize the only difference between family tree research and stalking is the people you are stalking are dead, mostly.

If you give a general description of stalking as; a persistent pursuit of an individual by another that would cause a reasonable person to fear, and the vast majority of stalkers are obsessed with their victims and they initiate contact or communications through telephone calls, mail, email, computer history research and the use of digital and video cameras, you may well be describing a genealogist with the only difference being the victim or person being stalked is dead.

Like most Genealogist I have done what nearly every beginning family historian has done and tried to trace my family as far back as possible. Twenty-five years later I have a bland collection of names and dates with a number of blank spots in them and very little on actual family history. Now my focus is on discovering, unfolding, and telling the stories of the lives of the individuals. It’s a much more tedious task than solely collecting names, places, and dates, but it can contain the elements of adventure, excitement, and intrigue. It can seem like a scavenger hunt at times. One clue and the right questions can possibly lead to an answer with another clue with more questions that need answers. Eventually however you get to that spot where you have to talk to living people. As I have progressed in this research of that particular Galestown/Woodland Ferry branch of the family that moved to the Wilmington area, I recently came across an obituary that gave the names of living people. I contacted one of them and that person did not call the police on me so I hope to meet that person and other relatives in March.

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