Genealogy Video: Just One Word Can Unlock a World
When it comes to genealogy videos, a single word can make a world of difference. A single word can be like the direction of a compass, or the combination of a safe. The right word and the right combination of circumstances can start a journey, unlock a world. Because like all genealogy, the genealogy video is a search and a search whose goal is often obscured.
So what do we mean by “one word can unlock a world”?
Take a simple example. Let’s say you’re researching her grandmother for a genealogy video that she has in mind. Let’s say you find out Grandma’s maiden name. That will help you trace a bunch of ancestors through, say, old census records. It can reveal even more. Take the Italian name “Fortunato”: the word means lucky. It was very common for the Catholic clergy to give orphans that name. If a name like that comes up in your searches, you probably have an orphan. Unfortunately, it probably means you can’t go back any further.
A word can be a place on a map. Can you find out the town where your ancestors came from? Getting to know the town can help you discover customs and traditions; history; birth, death and marriage certificates; and maybe even distant cousins. It is a great advantage to include images of the old family town, and perhaps some relatives who still live there, in your genealogy video.
It is possible that during your research for your genealogy video, you may discover a cause of death. With all the recent discoveries in genetic medicine, the condition that caused an ancestor’s death could make a significant difference in a person’s medical diagnosis or even treatment. A word about the cause of death could also link a person to a specific time and place: the Spanish flu in 1919? An industrial accident perhaps? More than one death was related to dust inhalation during the Great Depression.
A single word, the answer to a simple question, can also help uncover a personality that you may be featuring as part of your genealogy video. What about your favorite song? Knowing the answer could reveal the lighter side of the subject and help place him in the culture of his time. Maybe you can find it and download it! Sometimes a particular song can help define a person: Paul Anka’s song “My Way” speaks to more than one person who forged their own path in life.
That word could also be a number. Let’s say a word is the number of children born to a grandmother. Children mean cousins. And cousins can be your best friends when it comes to your family video. If you’re wondering where all the family photos went, chances are they’re with one of your cousins. And if you’re really lucky, one of your cousins will turn out to be a genealogist with loads of information you can use in your genealogy video.
Another advantage provided by a single word is the name of a passenger ship. Ocean liners have registries, passenger lists, ports of embarkation and destination, even personal information about passengers. From ship lists, you can find out if your ancestors were literate, what village they came from, how much money they had in their pocket when they embarked, who they stayed with when they arrived, and with whom they traveled.
In the military context, that golden word can be a service number. Armed forces around the world often keep wonderful records (if you ignore the terrible fire in our National Archives in 1973 that destroyed over 20 million personal records, especially Army personnel discharged between 1912 and 1960). So if your genealogy video will include personal service, a word can open the government vault.