Friday, January 18, 2019

We're All Chasing Stories

Let the story come to you; let it talk to you.
~J. Mark Lowe, SLIG 2019             

How many times do we struggle to learn more about our elusive ancestors? We chase their story from document to obscure document, hoping to find a clue to unravel their mystery. All along, the proof of their existence might have been waiting for us, if only we knew the right place to look.

When I'm not directly in pursuit of those ancestors, I'm in learning mode, trying to find a better way to chase those ancestors. That's why I spent this past week in Salt Lake City, attending my selected course (Southern Research) at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I was in plenty of good company—well over four hundred fellow researchers from forty eight of our fifty American states, plus attendees from other continents. And all too soon, we are wrapping up our last session today.

In the meantime, I have now been equipped with several new ideas on how to proceed in tackling my problem ancestors. Despite their silence over the years and through the lack of documents, I now have new places to look for them.

But it is not a push/pull fight any more. As Mark Lowe, our instructor, observed, the stories are out there. Inevitably, if we know where to look, we will find them. Or, more to the point, as we continue the search, the stories will find us. We just have to know how to listen. To keep our eyes open. To learn to ask ourselves questions when facts don't seem just right when considered at face value.

We need to spot those cues, those puzzles prompting us to ask questions. Then follow the paper trail until we find even more answers. The trail is hinting to us: there's a story in those details.

I'm a strong believer in Story. I don't doubt there are more stories out there. It was worth the price of SLIG admission to gain those resources—more importantly, to adjust the researcher's way of thinking, of framing the research question. And by gaining those resources, those ideas, I now am convinced I'm armed with plans to tackle a few longstanding research challenges that have been sitting in the shadows for far too long.

Once that process starts uncovering more facts, I know they will usher in stories. One can't help but have family with stories. I'm convinced Story is part of the human condition, and I'm primed to tell some more of them.


  1. You had a great week! Safe travels home with your renewed enthusiasm!

    1. Yes! Lots of leads and resources. I have a growing to-do list for upcoming research projects. Made it home safely and on time--always a plus--and getting ready for my first post-SLIG research trip. I'll be in Florida before you know it.

  2. Oh, that was definitely the theme and I'm going to work harder listening for the stories. Glad I got to spend time with you here!

    1. I enjoyed getting to talk with you at SLIG, Lisa. Let's keep in touch and compare notes on our progress. I want to make sure to keep the momentum going!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...