Meditation: Family History

I am my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. Who they were is part of me. And for better or worse who they were will be part of my son as well. As a parent of a young child I hear my mother's words (or worse yet, my grandmother's words) come out of my mouth on a regular basis. Even though all of my immediate family--mother, father, grandparents--have passed, I feel like I still live with them on a daily basis.

Wikipedia defines genealogy as, "...the study of families and the tracing of their lineages through history. " and family history as, "...the systematic narrative and research of past events relating to a specific family or specific families." While I am interested in names and dates like most genealogists, I am particularly interested in who people were, how they lived, and what were their lives like. In short, I want to know why my ancestors did what they did and how they became the people they became.

My research will never answer all of my questions. I know I'll never know how my great-grandmother felt about getting on a ship with a two-year-old and a four-year-old and five dollars in her pocket to join her husband in America, only to leave everyone and everything she knew behind in Poland. As the mother of a small child, the thought of doing what she did seems daunting to me. Through my research I have learned a little about her experience--where she came from, what ship she traveled on, who her family was, and a little about her life in America. My great-grandmother is just one interesting person among the dozens of interesting people I have researched. I truly believe all people are interesting. Their lives and life circumstances are interesting. The pieces of their lives are like pieces of a puzzle put together over time. Sometimes you find a piece, sometimes you lose a piece, and after a while things finally come together.

Unfortunately, I started genealogy too late to ask my grandmother and other relatives the questions I wish I had asked while they were alive. I've used my skills as a genealogist and a librarian to put together the pieces of my puzzle. My goal is to use this blog to share what I have learned and contribute in some small way to others' research, to share tips and techniques that have worked for me, and as a place to organize information.
Comment as you see fit, but please be kind.


Left to right Helen Bulak, Eva (Kowalewski) Bulak, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko, Worcester, MA, 1902. Author's private collection.