Unearthing Family Skeletons

Why in the middle of a blog about family history, did I put in a post about a Disney Pixar cartoon?

I was trying to illustrate the concept with which we all wrestle as family historians. How far do I go in my research of an individual’s life? We begin with a few bare facts.-the pencil  outline stage. It gives us a rough outline but nothing to really pique our interest. Gradually as we research further, we eventually encounter a wide variety of information. Some of which we might be tempted to exclude-

Workhouse records, prison records, adulterous affairs, desertion. Illegitimate  children.

These things may help to give texture to a story and when put in context may not be as negative as they initially appear.

I came across a murder mystery while conducting research.  I guess it was easier to deal with as I was not directly related to anybody involved. However I decided to bring this particular skeleton out of the closet. I am so glad I did. I became preoccupied with the victims and decided to try to trace their descendants. I eventually managed to locate the great grandson of one of the victims. It was a thoroughly rewarding experience. Most could not understand why I was willing to go down that particular rabbit hole. –(I may recount more about the experience  in future posts.)

Many emails were exchanged  before a meeting was organised.  Precious photos of that special occasion  were taken and  I feel now that it may somehow have  finally brought an unsavoury chapter to a close, albeit some 150 years after the event. It is now a picture which is no longer a bare outline. It is now a three dimensional drawing with texture.  It has been put into context. Dealing with family skeletons is challenging and can take courage. However bringing things into the light can be one of the most rewarding aspects of telling a family’s story.

Merisa Tomei deals with a family skeleton.


Interesting examples on  Who Do You  Think You Are?


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