My, my. You people that are interested in family history are a diverse lot. And, judging by the turnout at our Family History Open House in Urbandale, Iowa, on Sunday, there are plenty of you out there, eager to dig into those family roots.
Frankly, we didn’t know what to expect when the handful of us that make up the central Iowa contingent of the Association of Personal Historians put together the event to commemorate Family History Month. What we got was a steady stream of amateur genealogists and family historians, most of who appeared to be very intent on saving their family stories for future generations.
Here’s a sampling of what I heard from folks in my 2 hours of non-stop chatting:
- Lots of people who are designated the family historian by their relatives find themselves awash in family mementos, often more than they can comfortably handle. Their concerns centered on how to sort through piles of “inherited” stuff and what to do with it once it’s sorted.
- How do you go about interviewing relatives? Is there a set list of questions you should use? How do you get them to open up (or, in some cases, shut up?)
- I had one good discussion on the plight of local historical societies. It seems funding is becoming harder to get and there aren’t enough young people queued up to take the place of groups’ senior members.
- More than one person asked me about writing classes. There appear to be plenty of people in town who would love to write their own histories, but need a little guidance. (I’m actually working on setting something up now in the Des Moines area. More later.)
All in all, it was a lively, enthusiastic and inquisitive group. I hope they took away something positive from our little get-together. I know I did.
Flickr photo courtesy of G.Hotz Photography.