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February 19, 2012

Long Days in the Cemeteries

Among Her ForebearsI HAVE DISCOVERED the stickiest form of online social media and it's full of headstones.

While a lot of people will drop hours into Facebook, Twitter, food spotting, Pinterest, Soundcloud, YouTube, or photo-sharing, I've discovered time spent online while researching roots is the best way of connecting people across generations and over thousands of miles. When I click into my account at Ancestry.com, I'm normally lost for an hour. And when I finish my time inside the ancestral records, I feel I've located a special part of myself. I get this feeling while working online, not while burrowing solo with my GEDCOM file.

I've tried several family tree software programs, all allowing GEDCOM exports. The GEDCOM file format facilitates communications between programs. The result looks compelling online with Ancestry.com record sets.

I sit on a pile of undigitised records at the moment and I'm slowly shoveling gems of family heritage into the Ancestry.com cloud. I wish there was a way to carry my pedigree view with my in a mobile phone application. I'd take my phone to Cobh on the anniversary of my great great grandfather's stop and mark the occasion with a digital artefact of the dockside view he might have seen in 1869. With an app, I could visit the Battery in NYC and turn the phone into a document scanner, snapping pages of references to the Manhattan's arrival there on July 13, 1869. I'd also capture facets related to the McKelvey and McAuliffe family's first steps onto American soil in the 1880s.

Apps that present family heritage in the hand would boost cultural tourism in Ireland. I can already see the family herigage hooks deep into cousins I've never met. Like me, they're spending time and money researching their past. There's nothing more fulfilling than booking the flight to the auld sod to complete the journey by walking the land of your forebears. That's why I'm going to The Battery, to Queenstown, and to Bremen in search of snippets related to Lorenz Goldbach, the Prussian Army Corporal who became a Free Man in both Germany and the States. His sons and grandsons created a florist and decorating business that lasted 70 years. I wonder if horticulture was part of his Prussian upbringing. I doubt I'll get an answer to that question but I'm interested in documenting the biodiversity that formed part of his old and new worlds.

Image of Mia Goldbach next to the headstones of her great grandmother and great great grandmother in St Mary's Cemetery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Tracking the Descent of Dylan Goldbach at the moment.


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