Combine those three facts and you can see why genealogy is an interest of mine. I’ve been researching my family off-and-on for 12 years now. I have broader interests that will probably come up from time to time (roller and ice skating, living in Chicago, watercolor painting (not the kind with numbers), using parentheses inside parentheses, LGBTQ issues, and poetry to name . . . well, quite a lot, actually), but I think what I write here will center around my origin story.
I named my blog The Relative Cartographer because I often find myself hunched over a blank map with a black Sharpie in my hand, plotting out the migrations of my ancestors. The word cartographer has a special meaning to me too; I wrote about it here.
I’ve started this blog about my family tree for several reasons.
First, I wanted a place to write down the stories I’ve heard about my relatives or that I find in my research, so they will be available to people in the future. I want to be able to share them with anyone who is interested, but I also want anyone who is interested to be able to share their own folklore with me. I’m just as interested in other people’s origins as I am my own. Hopefully my posts convey that. Plus, over time, this blog has the potential to serve as a hub for family and friends, a sort of cyber family reunion. That’s an exciting idea to me.
Second, I graduated from college some time ago with a creative writing degree. I’d like to use this blog to get back into the habit of writing creatively on a regular basis. And nothing inspires me to write my own fiction more than the stories I dig up on my ancestors. So, some of my posts will weave what I know about my forefathers with fictional conversations and events in history (in my head they’ll be like the works of authors T.C. Boyle or E.L. Doctorow, but we’ll see). My stories may not be absolute truth, but hopefully they combine the hard facts of my relatives’ lives with a soul or spirit that captures who they were and how they lived. Having an audience will give me some accountability so I can’t just say to myself “No one will care if I don’t face up to writing the end of that story” and then shove it in a drawer for a decade. I’m sad to report that I’ve actually done.
Finally, I started researching my family tree when I was a bookstore clerk (read in: poor), so I think I have some good tips to share about doing it on a super tight budget. I aim to share some of my cheapskate tricks on my blog for anyone that is in the same position.
I’ve already started writing down some stories. Please let me know what you think.