It pays to share

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This time of the 12 months is all about sharing … sharing our time and exchanging visits and presents with household and buddies, maybe together with household historical past initiatives. As genealogists, we’re all the time in search of and exchanging data as a part of our endless quests to seek out elusive ancestors and study their lives, and to share our discoveries with household and different researchers. The alternatives to share – and profit from – our genealogical analysis have by no means been simpler on this age of the Web. The extra we share, the extra we will help others who could discover one thing large or small within the fruits of our labors. The reverse can be true – the extra we share, the extra seemingly it’s that others will share with us.

Whether or not we publish on-line one thing so simple as the names of everybody with a single surname from a set of listed or unindexed information, or a compilation of references to chose surnames present in unique sources, or an article or weblog publish reporting the outcomes of our analysis, or a fully-documented household research, or something in between, it’s seemingly that others who discover our work will contact us and maybe ship data of worth. Over time I’ve been rewarded many occasions over for sharing extensively what I had found, as evidenced by two examples from researching Irish ancestors on my mom’s aspect of the household.

Within the early 2000s, earlier than the explosion of Web-based genealogical assets, one needed to rely on microfilmed information and on-site analysis, all of which was time-consuming, tedious, and generally costly. Finally I managed to seek out sufficient data to write down draft chapters or brief genealogical sketches about a number of branches of our household tree. I emailed them to all related family members for whom I had e mail addresses, and despatched “laborious copies” to household elders who didn’t have computer systems. In a earlier publish (“Flower power,” 3 November 2021), I recounted how a distant cousin supplied the breakthrough that not solely revealed the exact place in Italy the place my paternal great-grandparents lived, but in addition allowed me to trace down cousins nonetheless residing of their ancestral city. Along with sharing the draft chapters with family members, I additionally posted some queries on genealogical web sites in regards to the households I used to be researching.

I fortunately despatched him the draft chapters I had written, copies of paperwork and notes, and plenty of analysis recommendations.

Years glided by, however then a kind of queries caught the eye of a retired Irish doctor from Waterford, Dr. Garrett R. FitzGerald, who had simply begun to analysis his circle of relatives historical past. My queries have been meant to solicit data that I wanted, however this researcher, who turned out to be a distant cousin on my mom’s aspect, was in search of data from me! I fortunately despatched him the draft chapters I had written, copies of paperwork and notes, and plenty of analysis recommendations. All of this helped to jump-start his analysis, which proceeded by leaps and bounds, due to his enthusiasm and all the web sources that had grow to be accessible since my preliminary efforts. He constructed a household tree on Ancestry, and over the subsequent few years deluged my inbox repeatedly with new information and new ancestral relations he had found. I wasn’t maintaining rating, however I’m positive my preliminary contributions to his nascent household historical past undertaking have been reciprocated many occasions over. Better of all, Judy and I had the pleasure of assembly him and his household in October 2015, in Dublin, the place we celebrated our joint birthdays on October 29!

The second occasion of the extraordinary advantages of sharing entails one other instance of delayed however wealthy rewards. One in all my first cousins as soon as eliminated, Eileen Regucci Canale (1928-2019) of Fairfield, Connecticut, my father’s cousin, adopted my analysis with nice curiosity. She was herself a veritable “household oral historian” who repeatedly exchanged cellphone calls with an in depth community of family members to verify in on them, share household information and gossip, and opine in regards to the state of the world. She was an ideal supply of household data and lore, and instructed me issues about our prolonged household and ancestral relations that nobody else did. Understanding that my mom’s maiden identify was Ryan and that each of her dad and mom immigrated from Eire, in 2003 Cousin Eileen despatched me a newspaper clipping of an obituary for a Josephine Mary Ryan (1930-2003) from the Danbury Information-Occasions. It was a kind of obits that genealogists love – it named her dad and mom and siblings, and reported when she emigrated from Eire, her employment, and her favourite pastimes!

[Several] months in the past – eighteen years later (!) – I got here throughout that obituary…

On the time, given the boundaries of my analysis, I didn’t acknowledge her or her household, so I simply filed the obit. away. However a number of months in the past – eighteen years later (!) – I got here throughout that obituary whereas updating my analysis into the Ryans. Noting that Josephine’s dad and mom have been William Ryan and Mary Casey, I double-checked my now much-expanded household tree and located that William was the brother of my grandfather John Joseph Ryan (1874-1952)! That unexpectedly opened up a brand new analysis entrance, revealing that two of Josephine’s youthful sisters, Christine (1914-2001) and Winifred (1920-1997), additionally immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Danbury. Josephine and Christine remained single, however Winifred married and had kids, and I’m now attempting to make contact along with her descendants, my new-found cousins. I solely remorse that I didn’t be taught of those Ryan immigrants earlier in order that I may have thanked Cousin Eileen in particular person … however I’m positive she is aware of!

These examples could possibly be multiplied, and I hope you, too, have had such lucky experiences. In any case, the “legislation of reciprocity” applies to family tree in addition to different social endeavors! Because the widespread saying goes, “you get what you give!” In order we enter this festive season of goodwill and generosity, let’s redouble our efforts to share each the fruits of our work and the analysis challenges we’ve encountered … chances are high we will likely be paid again with dividends!