Filling out a family tree or researching a family's history takes time. For some, it can be a very long time. Projects often morph into something quite different from the original intention.
Most of us have some idea of where we're headed when we enter into a project, if only vaguely. But how do you know when a project's done? When do you share what you've learned?
There are some among us who are eager to share what we find as soon as we find it. This team-building approach encourages collaboration, often inspiring others to prod their own memories and resources to become active participants in your project.
Others choose to wait until they've reached a certain stage in their process, sharing only when their documentation is complete and their research results extend into their personal comfort zones. This can take years.
I'm reminded of a cartoon a few years back showing a tired and perplexed man sitting in front of a computer screen bearing a message to the effect of "You've reached the end of the Internet."
Can you imagine reaching that point in your own family history work?
Larry Lehmer is a retired Des Moines Register editor and author of The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. He is currently working on a book about the Philadelphia years of American Bandstand. You can read his Bandstand blog here.