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  • Writer's pictureFiona Appleton-Thorn

Helping The Family Historian

Updated: Oct 11, 2020

Imagine this Scenario:

I got a call from a woman one day who was most distressed that her father had been hospitalized following a stroke. He was doing well enough, but it meant that as she lived in a different state his care plan included him moving to a residential home. I thought she had the wrong number, so I suggested that she contact her father's health team. Then she let the penny drop, "Dad" was the family historian.

Her father had spent years on research, which had increased in his retirement. She told me that since her mother passed three years ago, this was his main interest.

The poor woman was concerned that without his active participation "Dad" would be lost. The records too, as she confessed that she couldn't get the hang of his notes or filing system. There were boxes of it. She confessed she thought it was a mess and wanted to know if there was anything I could do to help. Hmmm.

Okay- a few possibilities I saw here, so I explained my thought process:

"Really I need to see the records to ascertain if this is something I can work with. So can you send them to me by UPS or something? Or maybe drop them off? Depends where you are, of course, I might be able to collect them if you're not too far."

"Here's the thing" I continued- "if I can input the data from your Father's records with his own notes added it will be able to be saved on a computer program. You can access it when you're sitting with him, or on the phone, and talk about the family and how his search has progressed. I can email you updated progress reports so you will have topics and questions for him to try and keep his mind active."

"He has good days and bad days," she said. "But It might help." She was sad but hopeful.

"Obviously I don't know till I see the condition of the records, but it may be possible to get down some branches for report booklets and mail them to him so he can read them when he has some of those better days."

"What will all this cost me?" She was weary, understandably so.

"I don't know to be honest. I haven't seen what I'd be working with, or how big this tree is. How about we cross one bridge at a time? Let me take a look, then I'll have a better idea. If it's doable there's always a payment plan I can put you on so you'll know costs each month."

The records were less chaotic than I had imagined

Here's what we did.

We agreed she'd get the boxes delivered to me at Another Leaf Genealogy. I'd look at them to see what could be done and contact her without doing any input work. There was no charge to assess the stuff- she could just get the records collected, or pay the cost for me to send them back.

The records were not too bad, and more organized than I had imagined. I was able to input the tree basics fairly quickly. The caller became a client by purchasing a starter package, then going on a monthly plan. I was able to fill in additional details later, so the first monthly reports went to both her (Email) and to her father by post. They both enjoyed the memories that arose between them when they spoke about the leaves on their tree.

"We spoke about the family tree and it brought happy memories flooding back!"

This solution made people happy and preserved the records for the future. It worked within a budget for the client's pocket and my work planning. The fact that my client's father remembered more from his past was a bonus. Isn't that what it's all about? Finding a way forward together that helps people? I believe so.

What's your Family Tree Obstacle? Here's a few solutions

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