One of the interesting projects I've done in the past few months was a recreation of a family tree. My friend Michael sent me this original document and asked if I could recreate it using today's technology.
It's unclear who originally compiled the data, or who might have taken the time to create the original document—the most recent date included is 1965—but is was apparently discovered within the papers of family member during a shredding mission. Here's just about all that's known:
I'm going through all of my paperwork—a vast task—and doing a multitude of shredding. I found two copies of this Collier family tree and just wanted to be sure you had at least one copy ...
[Michael's mother was a Collier.]
I enclose this note because it represents to me why I need to remember to keep my own files and piles of paper under control (I am an avid journal writer and collector of documentation about my life); and why attaching the particulars about a precious document is so critical to include with the things that are deemed important to keep (otherwise they may just unceremoniously land in the dumpster*). This document was presumably passed down to Jessica in yet someone else's papers, but as it was bereft of any supporting documentation, we know virtually nothing about how the genealogical information was collected, where it came from, and what sort of research went into the project—and we probably never will. Also, given its age and construction, it's amazing that it still exists at all. Cheers for pack-rats!
The original document comprised nine letter-size sheets of paper that had been diligently copied and glued/pasted together.
After some number of drafts, this is what resulted with the conversion using the tools available today (created using Adobe InDesign): a stack of printed 11 by 17-inch sheets of delicious, extra-thick cover stock with the recreated (and slightly corrected) graphic, and a PDF file.
Here's the final printed graphic:
Oh, and I also recreated a Collier family crest for this project:
And here's what the PDF file looks like:
This was a fun project for me, and such a nice reprieve from some of my recent (really rather dull and quite boring) work.
Genealogy is a funny thing. I know so many people who have invested an enormous of time and energy into collecting their family histories, and others who have no idea where they've come from, and yet others who would prefer to forget their family history altogether.
It's an interesting way of seemingly belonging to something bigger than yourself, and yet it's all so completely random ... and the stories of the women are usually completely lost in these patriarchal envisionings of our personal and family histories.
My own family is very aware of its genealogy on both sides—and the women feature prominently—and yet so few in my own generation have chosen to have children. So I guess our own charts just end here in a final name ... we've willfully become an irrelevancy to the generations that follow.
I guess all that can be said is: So long, and thanks for all the fish.
* When we once delivered hundreds of albums (it must have been more than a thousand) to my dear friend Hoyt, I explained that he needn't be gentle about them, that we weren't giving them to him in perpetuity but as a gift that he could do with as he wished. He looked down at me with that sly half-smile he has and said, "Don't you worry—I know how to use a dumpster." That phrase has since become a part of my family's lore.