Family History and Trauma
Last week, for the first time, I had to notify a client that I'd found a piece of her family history that was very disturbing, and ask her if she wanted the details. She said yes, and so I forwarded an 1893 newspaper article telling of her great-grandfather's sentence of 20 years in the state prison for raping his daughter. My client's response: "Well, that explains a lot!" Even without knowing these details, over 100 years ago, she had seen signs of dysfunction in her parents and grandparents and their relationships.
What I've Been Doing
That caused me to think about one of the reasons it's so important to know your family history. Just as you should be aware of a 5-generation history of diabetes or heart disease, you should know about a history of trauma - whether violence, abuse, alcoholism, separations and divorce, infant death, homelessness, and how they have affected the generations down to the present time. I went back to my client archives and counted at least 10 cases where a client hired me because they suspected something in their past that was affecting their present.
Family trauma in your family history - something to be aware of.
* Working on presentations - this year will be my busiest yet!
* Participating in an online discussion group with other professional genealogists
* Ordering records (including a 70-page divorce record from Spokane) and writing two case studies
* Doing client research in Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Scotland and Ireland
* Arranging a family reunion in Michigan for descendants of 4 sisters born in the 1920s; the youngest 3 were given up for adoption during the Great Depression