You have spent months or maybe even years researching and gathering anything and everything you can on your family ancestors. Most of the photos you have gathered are labeled; the documents are sorted and placed in organized files for easy reference. You have managed to keep an accurate and up-to-date pedigree chart with names and information on each ancestor. Maybe you are thinking you have now finished your family history – that it is a completed and concluded project. WRONG!
True, there is no law or regulation saying how long or how complete is a family history should be. Instead you need to be satisfied with what you have accomplished and that it is truly everything you want in a full family history. Some people are just happy with a listing of all the direct lineage ancestors along with their vital statistics (dates and locations). If that was your goal and you have met it — fantastic!
However, you may have realized there is so much more to know and learn from our ancestors than just their name and birth date. Every one of them has a story, a chronicle of the events that would eventually shape and influence your own existence. By gathering as much information; their occupations, the tragedies they faced, the places that served as home, the organizations they were a part of and the lifestyle they had, can enrich your own life.
Knowing the sacrifices and struggles the immigrant ancestor made to begin a new life in a strange land just might provide the incentive for you or someone else in your family to make the move to a new town to begin another career. Those ancestors and how they endured can serve as an inspiration to anyone.
Another reason to continue your family history research is for preservation. With so many new databases and resources becoming available, this is an exciting time to do family research. It is like slowing pulling back the layers of a wrapped gift, each layer is revealing more details. Every person who has done any amount of family history research can testify there have been numerous surprises uncovered that might have been ‘lost’ forever if the researcher had not made the effort to dig a little further.
A personal example is my finding that my great-great grandmother single-handedly gathered some 90 guns and rifles from the town of Frederick, Maryland in October 1862 just before Rebels troops marched through Frederick. She hid them in a well so the Confederate soldiers would not have additional weapons. When the soldiers left, she retrieved the guns and turned them over to the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C. I found a small write-up of the event in the October 21, 1862 Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.
If you can, make it a continual learning process to find out as much as possible about each relative. They are waiting to be discovered.