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PATHWAYS Through Central Europe
A Family Heirloom - Beyond Complex Research
Compiling the many Facts, Photos & Family Stories into a Bound Volume for Future Generations
|What is A Family Heirloom?
The Ultimate Goal of most Family History Research is to Answer Questions - It is almost certain that with each question that is researched and answered, there arises further questions. Thus, it can hardly be said that a family research is ever truly complete. There is a point within each generation where those unanswered questions must be left to subsequent generations. Thus, it can be said, as with most endeavors, that there is a point at which the search for one last unknown piece is like the last straw that breaks the camel's back (or the proverbial bank). This law of diminishing return is all too evident to us, as researchers, as we see it as the point when most research simply comes to an abrupt halt.
We therefore propose the following steps be taken from the onset of any family history research:
- Identify an overall goal of the research - a point at which the author can reach some degree of satisfaction and closure between process and results. In reality there is no real end to family history research. Nevertheless, each family historian must somehow establish the limits of their own time and resources. Within this benchmark no tomb (ancient volume) should be ignored, and every page should be carefully examined, referenced and correctly cited. This then will be the solid foundation from which future family historians can proceed.
- Formulate a narrative to augment the data compiled - each step along the research path has its own objective and rationale which should be articulated in the telling of the overall family story. Further narratives should also include those of co-authors, contributing researchers, and family members, to name only a few.
- Include supporting information upon completion of data collection (not during) - explanations about individual occupations, personal status, institutions, oral history and historical fact should all be taken into account, and added to the completed vital data pertaining to each individual. If done generation by generation, during the collection of vital data, this could cause redundancy and unnecessary delay in the progress of research. It is therefore advisable to stay focused on a each particular process (e.g., data gathering, analysis and evaluation, examination of auxiliary sources, etc.)
Completion - the final step can be the most difficult, as it is never easy to draw this line and go to print. The point that one generation's work is complete, however, is the ultimate conclusion of the stated objectives. This then will appear as the preface. It helps to bring to conclusion, and to bind appropriately the contribution of one generation, for generations to come. And so, it should demonstrate by its appearance, binding and content, the thoughtful care that family legacy is defined by.