Don’t Underestimate Your Power

This weekend I spoke at the Illinois Family History Expo. One of the lectures I gave was Finishing The Story which is three case studies about my World War I and World War II ancestors who died in service.

My lecture basically goes like this for each case study:

  • Tell the story I heard from a family member about that soldier
  • Explain my initial research process
  • Go through all the records, books, newspaper articles, and more I located on each soldier
  • The process of proving, disproving, saying it is possible this story I heard is true
  • And the process of writing the “final” story of my soldier even though all my questions were not answered

When I got to the end of the lecture the room was quiet. I asked if there were any questions and no one said a word. I thanked everyone for attending and after a few more very quiet moments, they clapped and started filing out. A few came up front to talk to me and ask questions or tell me the stories of their military ancestors.

A friend of mine attended this lecture and had never heard me give it. I asked her what she thought because the first time I gave this lecture people had questions during the lecture and afterward. There were ooo’s and aahhhh’s at certain points of the lecture.

This time there was none of that. I was concerned that because no one said a word, it might not have been very good. My friend said I had her about in tears twice as I told the stories and walked through the case studies. She said no one talks about the stories of those who died in service or how the families had to deal with the aftermath of waiting for news about their soldier being buried overseas and then years, yes years later, having the option to bring the remains back to the United States or buried overseas permanently. No one talks about the anguish and pain felt by those left behind. My lecture brought all this out.

Don’t underestimate the power of the stories that you may write and tell about your family, whether they were a soldier, baker, mother, politician, whatever. The research we conduct may never be finished and we may never have all the answers, but our words and stories have power.

Have you written your stories?

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Categories: Conferences, Education, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Underestimate Your Power

  1. Wish I could have heard this. Do you ever video your presentations and post them on the web?

    • Well I plan to start doing webinars with The In-Depth Genealogist (IDG) in September. My first one will be “Finishing The Story.” Do you know about IDG? http://www.theindepthgenealogist.com I’m one of the co-founders. You can sign up for their newsletter or mine and watch for the webinar dates.

      • I absolutely know about IDG. I have been following your progress since it started. I am getting the IDG newsletter, but not yours, I think. I will make sure all my subscriptions are active and I will look forward to the webinars in September. Thanks, Jennifer.

  2. Wonderful post! I can’t wait to hear this talk even if it is in webinar format. It reminds about the video I posted to my Facebook wall awhile ago that showed the WWII veteran’s wife who waited 50 years to find out what happened to him. Bureaucracy messed up and didn’t give her answers that were available all the time but the video of her story and discovery was amazingly poignant. I’m sure your talk was too.

  3. I wish I could have been there to hear those stories. I often wonder about my 3rd great grandmother Nicholas (Martin) Laurie. My 3rd great grandfather John Douglas Laurie died during the civil war leaving her a widow with five young children and no known extended family of this Scottish immigrant.

    Regards, Jim
    John Douglas Laure – Civil War Casualty

  4. It was a very emotional lecture and a few tears did run down my face. The place was quiet because it was the stories that you told and the respect that was given to the individuals you spoke of. Each of them a true American Hero.

  5. I’m glad your friend was there to offer a good reason for the silence. I’ve been to presentations that have left me too emotionally drained to ask questions.

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