I hope every genealogist gets to experience what I did this week.
It all started two weeks ago when I located Albert Brown's death information in an online death index. I then asked my sister if she would obtain a copy of the certificate from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Her answer was no. I guess I shouldn't have asked her then because we were leaving for our family reunion in Yellowstone National Park the next day. So I had to wait until our reunion was over. I guess it would be good to spend time with my living relatives for a few days.
Lucky for me, Salt Lake City was on the way home, so of course we stopped at the Family History Library. I told my wife that I wouldn't be long - I just wanted to get a copy of Albert's death certificate which should only take a few minutes. To my delight, my 11-year-old, Evan, wanted to come with.
He and I located the film and I showed him how to use the microfilm reader. Since I already had the index information, I suspected it would be pretty easy to locate the certificate so I showed him where to look for the correct certificate number.
This is Evan using a microfilm reader for the first time.
This is Evan as he located the certificate we were seeking:
I explained to him that he just found a brand new ancestor. His excitement grew as I showed him that he just found Albert's parents. In his burst of emotion he said,
"Dad, I thought genealogy was boring. This is so ... much ... fun!"
Using my digital camera, I let him take the photo of the certificate (way faster and cheaper than making a paper copy). We put the film back and on the way out Evan stopped me and asked,
"Dad, isn't there anyone else we could look for?"
Recognizing that a new genealogist was being born, but still aware that my wife and three other kids were waiting for us, I brought Evan to the computers and did a search in the same database (Washington state Death Index) and located the index entry for one of Albert's children - Wilbur. With the little research I had done of the family previously, I recognized that Wilbur did in fact belong to the family but I had not yet recorded anything of his existence. So we pulled the microfilm and Evan quickly located Wilbur's death certificate. This was truely original research - my 11-year-old just found an ancestor that nobody else had. All along he asked questions like, "how do we know that this is the right person?" He was anxious to know how Albert and Wilbur fit into the family.
Fast forward three days to this morning at 8:00. Before I invited Evan into my office (yes, it's a mess...) I did a little preparation by adding the death certificate information to my source clipboard. Then I invited him to sit in my chair which I think surprised him a bit. With Legacy open we navigated to Albert Brown where I showed my son how they were both related. I opened up Legacy Charting to help him visualize it better. Then, with Legacy open on my left monitor (28" wide-screen - everyone should have one...or two) and the death certificate image open on my right monitor, I taught Evan how to type in the new information. Of course I showed him how to use the source clipboard, for there is no truth without proof.
Next, I opened Wilbur Brown's death certificate and asked Evan, "if you want to add a brand new person, which button do you think you should click on?" He looked around and decided that the "Add" button might do the job. Now, without my instruction, he added Wilbur Brown as a new child to Albert (and Emily), analyzed the death certificate and entered the new details (name, birth, and death).
I was so proud of him, and equally as proud that Legacy Family Tree made it easy for him to do it all.
Have you had a similar experience? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.