Is working for a client different from doing your own family?

Good afternoon!

The question posed today has to do with commitment.  I have been spending the past few days really digging into the Norwegian parish records.  If you have ever done research in the Scandinavian records (I have worked the Danish and Swedish records mostly) they are wonderful to work with.  While I like the arrangement of the two countries I most have worked in, I find the way the Norwegians have organized the information by year and by record type most convenient.  With Swedish records you have to look to find the 1840 records between the 1839 and 1841 records; the Norwegians have linked each year separately.  Since my own family history has been “done” for about a year now, I am having a great time doing “real research” again.

My client wants me to “find the stories”.  She even said that she was looking forward to finding a few “black sheep” in the family.  I have found some “grey” ones;  but I am sorry to say, have not found anyone notorious, yet.

I have come to appreciate how my own research on my own family has built up over decades.  To paraphrase Everett Dirkson (an Ostfriesen!), “A tidbit here and a tidbit there, and pretty soon you are talking about a real story!”  It is these little tidbits of information that expand the sense of the family.  It is also these little bits of information that are extremely difficult to capture for a client in the short amount of time that you have, unless you have a client with infinite resources, which is not likely.  Yesterday, I received a library card that was from the book my mother checked out in 1978.  That year she read Oliver’s Story over the Christmas holiday.  It was a quick read as someone else checked the book out on January 6.  She was a voracious reader and I cannot imagine that she liked this book, the sequel to Love Story! but I love having the card.  I can remember as a child, checking out a book and signing my name in the same library on a similar card.  This information will be added to the database but more importantly it tells me a little more about my mother.

This gathering of the tidbits of life, takes a long time.  For a client you rarely have that luxury.

Is working for a client different?….yes.  There is a different sense of commitment (not bad, just different), and there is a difficulty in capturing those tidbits of life that give depth and breadth to their story.  However, you get a chance to work in different areas of the world and learn more about the history of that country and its present day resources.  So enjoy it!

Happy hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  I have gotten Jens T. Dahle across the ocean to Norway and found out that his father and his second wife and family also immigrated to Winneshiek Co. IA.  I have learned a lot about “farm names,” the system of assumption of the name of the farm as the last name of the individual which then became the surname when the person immigrated.  Hence Jens’s surname is Dahle and his father’s is Fosse.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s