Bob Haase’s Another Can of Worms

Documenting Your Family History

I have always been pretty good at procrastination and I succeeded again at putting things off until it was too late.  A few years ago I got interested in finding out more about my family history and thought that I should do it while my mother was still able to help provide the information needed.  We were a small family and there were not many people left that could provide information about our family history if something were to happen to my mother. 

One of the problems was trying to identify who the people were in the hundreds or thousands of pictures my mother had.  Some of the pictures were in albums and others were in boxes but most of them were not labeled very well.  I asked my mother to label the pictures so I would know who was in the pictures and she started working at doing that.  I also asked her to work on the family tree and that I would help where possible finding information on the internet if available. 

I was interested and wanted to find out more, but it was not my top priority at the time.  I figured there was still plenty of time to get the information I needed.  My mother put a lot of time into this and was able to help identify many of the people in the pictures and provide additional information related to them.   I am really glad I asked her to do that when I did because before she was half done she had a hemorrhage behind her eyes and lost the vision in both eyes.  This was followed by deteriorated health conditions and was not able to do any more. 

It wasn’t until my mother passed away two weeks ago that I realized that there was not anyone left that could provide the information I wanted or identify the people in the pictures.  I am now the person my children or grandchildren would need to go to if they were interested in their family history.  Unfortunately most of us don’t see this as being that important until it is too late.  My children or grandchildren may not be real interested in this now, but they might in the future.  Sometimes we don’t realize how important this is until it is too late.  I will continue to work on my family history but I know that there will be a lot of information missing and people in the pictures unidentified.

Don’t make the mistake that I did in waiting too long.  Even if you are not interested right now, you might end up like me being the only person capable of providing the information and not being able to do it.  I have a lot of good memories of my parents, grandparents, and other relatives that I was close to and I am trying to document what I know, but I wish I knew more.  I am grateful for everything my mother did because if it were not for the work she did I would know a whole lot less. There are a lot of resources available on the internet to help research a person’s ancestry, but it usually only includes the records and not the memories and stories that can only be passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth and written documentation.  If nothing else, at least take the time to write on the backs of the pictures so other will know who it is in the pictures.  Put in writing the funny stories and things you think might be important when you are no longer capable of telling someone. Do it now!

Bob Haase is the host of “Outdoors Thursday” heard Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ.