Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Collect Dead Relatives. Why?

Larry Lehmer on the Passing It On blog has an interesting post today titled "You are what you collect, to a point." He describes his own collections and some characteristics of collectors.

My own life collections are similar to Larry's - I've collected stamps, coins, baseball cards, bottle caps, maps, popular song surveys, distant radio station audio tapes, radio station verification cards and letters, and now "dead relatives." Well, not really the relatives themselves - but information about them.

I started collecting information on dead relatives in 1988, and haven't stopped since. Since I've found most of the ones that I can find (I have lots of brick wall dead relatives - the ones I can't find), I've taken to helping others collect information on their dead relatives.

I started out just collecting names, dates and places of my dead relatives, but now I collect family stories, obituaries, papers, census records, military records, cemetery records, and lots more - whatever I can find out about a person. In addition to my own ancestral line, I've taken to collecting information on dead relatives who are descended from some of my ancestors - in the Seaver, Carringer, Dill, Vaux, Smith, Auble, Richmond and other family lines.

Why do I do this? Is it just something to do to impress other people, or as a conversation starter? You know -

HE: "What do you do?"

ME: "Oh - I collect dead relatives - you know, genealogy."

HE: "Hmmm. Do you have them all in your house on the mantel over the fireplace, or do you keep them in a mausoleum in the backyard?"

ME: "No - I just leave them where they were buried, and collect their names, dates, places, stories, etc."

HE: "How boring is that - you probably hang around libraries, cemeteries and musty old museums, right?

ME: "Sure - where else do you find records of dead relatives?"

HE: "Well, it was nice talking to you."

ME: "Wait, you didn't tell me about your ancestors. Where were they from? Where did they live? Where are they buried? Got any interesting stories?"

HE: "Ummm, I really don't want to talk about this ... I really don't know. Gotta go"

ME; "OK, bye."

Look, here comes a lady with a smile on her face.

ME: "Hi - do you collect dead relatives too?"

SHE: "Mind your own business. I don't talk to people like you. You're just trying to find out my credit card number, aren't you?"

Oh well. I tried.

But I didn't answer the question, did I?

I collect information on my dead relatives so that I can tell their stories, honor their memories, and provide an answer to the age-old questions "Where did we come from?" and "How did we get here?" for my brothers, my children, my cousins and their progeny. They're all too busy doing other things in life - like raising families, working hard, and making their own family history.

Why do you collect information on dead relatives?

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I collect dead relatives for the same reasons you do, Randy. And, because in the process I've gotten to know some of my living relatives a lot better and met ones I never would have met otherwise.