I’ve always been fascinated with family history. The genealogy of both sides of my family interests me but it is the history and the stories which arouse my curiosity. I am always searching for the unique stories of my ancestors, the stories which explain their way of life and the decisions they made along the way. Often these stories are buried in the past and I have to try to find a way to access them. I am frequently disappointed when I can’t find them.
I’m not only fascinated with my own family history, I am also captivated by the history of other families. I read memoirs and auto biographies and I watch every incarnation of “Who Do You Think You Are”. Every family has a story and every story is interesting. That’s the thing with people, they are intriguing. I constantly wonder why someone did this or that, instead of taking a different tack altogether. I ponder on motivation. Sometimes it is obvious; the starving man steals a loaf of bread, but sometimes it is less apparent; a marriage choice, relocating to a new country, a career change. There is a story behind each decision and I want to find out what it is.
In order to further my fascination with family history, I’ve enrolled in a Diploma of Family History with the University of Tasmania. The first subject I will be studying is Oral History and the description on the UTAS website already has me excited: “Shared family stories contribute to a more complete picture of where we have come from and where we are going. In Oral History, you will learn about gathering family history through interviews. You will explore the ways in which oral history can complement, supplement and even contradict written, pictorial and other records.”
I wonder if we have to interview family members? I would assume that would be one of the tasks we are given. For me this could be challenging. I have very few close relatives who are living and who might remember my family’s history. I’m of that age when all grandparents and both parents are no longer around. The only family members who might recall stories from the past live in Europe and, at least on my father’s side, speak German. I don’t know if I have any close living relatives on my mother’s side. But I’m up for the challenge!
I’m hoping the Diploma of Family History will give me a few pointers in researching not only my own family history, but others as well. I can see a future me helping people to find out more about their families. I am already excited about the stories I can help uncover. I plan to track my journey through this Diploma and keep you all updated with how I go and what I learn. Along the way I hope to uncover some interesting stories, perhaps in my family’s history, perhaps in someone else’s. One way or the other, I’ll share them with you.