Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Women's History Month 2021: Someone Else's Family

Image by suju-foto via Pixabay

Genealogy influences the way we search websites. Name, date, and place. But as I have pointed out many times this month, understanding our family means going beyond a search for their name.

In genealogy, we hear of the importance of the FAN Club. This reminds us to look for the Friends, Associates, and Neighbors of an ancestor. The idea is that sometimes our ancestors are mentioned, written about, and documented through their relationship to others.

We should take this into consideration as we approach our research at the museum. The museum provides plenty of opportunities to understand an event, an activity, a place in time. In some cases, this may not be through actual research but rather through viewing exhibits or reading a museum publication. And while our ancestors may not be individually named, that doesn't mean what the museum has to offer isn't important to our research. 

An exhibit about women and suffrage in California may never name my female ancestors but knowing the history of suffrage in California can help me better understand my great-great-grandmother who voted in those first elections open to women. Going to an exhibit about midwives can help you understand the midwife in your pioneer family. Studying an exhibit that details that big natural disaster can help you understand how your ancestor might have felt and what they faced.

We learn about our families as we explore others. Other people's families can help us better understand our own and help us write about our ancestor's experiences. Museums provide us with that opportunity.

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