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The Great Family History Project… Continues!

December 25, 2017

And so it continues! Thirty-six Christmases later.

The Great Family History Project, or so it shall be named until I come up with something better.

My Aunty Cathy started the immense task of compiling decades (centuries?) of family history back in the 70s. Not only figuring out who came from where and what they did, but the stories that defined them. She interviewed people. She made note of the details. She saved the little stuff. Because it’s not dates and lineage that makes a person, it’s stories.

That’s really what she’s done here—compile stories. It’s incredible what’s been found, kept, and discovered.

My plan is to take all of that wonderfulness and assemble it into a digital family tree of sorts. In addition to including photos, marriage certificates, etc, I’ll also include photos of things that person made or owned. I’ll link to photos of the petit point my Nana made and her wedding ring. I’ll include anything I have of theirs that reflects the time period and culture they lived in—newspaper clippings, magazine advertisements, book covers, packaging, household objects… Things that give you context and perspective.

I’m going to build a website for it so it can be dynamic, accessible, and super visual.

I want it to be an experience.

You know that shoebox of keepsakes some people have? I want this website to feel like opening one of those. Just a little more… orderly. But that same joy of discovery.

Lots of rabbit holes to fall down.

A time machine heavy on the nostalgia.

Here’s the vision—the main page of the website looks like your standard idea of a family tree with names, dates, and photos of each person. Then when you click on any given name you’re taken to “their page” that’s set up as a chronological timeline (see above). The timeline will branch off with events, photos, things they made, etc. They’ll be a preview picture with a title and date for each “memory” and then clicking on that photo will take you to either a full-sized image, a gallery, or a blog post.

I want these timelines to paint a full picture of who this person was and the culture they lived in. It’s one thing to see, “Oh Hey, she was married in the 40s! That’s a long time ago!” and another to see what life looked like for a woman in the 40s based on the packaging her girdle came in, which she saved to store her knitting needles in because you didn’t waste anything… you know? As much as I can, I want to put these stories in context.

I’ll continue explaining as it comes along and evolves, but that’s what I have in mind as of today. I know what I want it to look and feel like, now just to… build it.

Today’s work was sifting through box one of family history. This is decades of work on my Aunt’s part which I for whatever reason told myself I’d be able to “whip together” into a website over Christmas Break.

Ha! I do love my ignorance…

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