Claiming Your History
How to Incorporate Your Past Into Your Present
by Tracy Whittington. 2012. Approx. 256 pages.
"By the way we speak, we can show the value of the history of our own lives. By recording and remembering, collecting and researching, we can bring that history into our own stories. We, too, can make a certain claim on the past, instead of letting it slip out of recorded memory and away from us forever."
Here Tracy Whittington explains why she wrote her book. She affirms our wish to bring the past into our present, to spirit our ancestors out of their graves to stand beside us in conversation, and most especially I suspect, to seek their approvals that their resurrections in our genealogical work is meritorious, noteworthy, and good.
Last fall my son and I planted two trees in the yard. As I spaded out the hole for the root ball, I imagined the work of my ever-present great-grandfather traveling by horse-drawn wagon over to the Niobrara River, extracting cottonwood saplings from the riverside, hauling them back to the farm and transplanting them down into the sandy soil of the Sandhills, all in the hope that they would thrive so he could add 160 more acres to his homestead.
I was planting for my vanity, he was planting for his livelihood.
Ms. Whittington gives resounding endorsement to our family daydreams and fantasies. In fact, she does even better than that: she provides us with instructions on how to improve our efforts.
In four chapters, she helps us integrate our past with today and lay the groundwork for our own future history. In 'Genealogy,' she gives us the basics on how to do it, plus a few more tips we could always use ("name your children after your ancestors"); in 'Heirlooms' she talks about artifacts from the past and gives us ideas about the objects of today that could become heirlooms of the future; in 'Home' she talks about home-place origins and creating new family home-place traditions ("sit on the front porch"); and in 'Tradition' she offers the solace and comfort of living inside history while creating some new history for our descendants to remember us by.
Claiming Your History is an ebook that I found very easy to read. If fact, I found it handier than I expected: by reading only a few pages at a time, because the Kindle pages are smaller, I absorbed her ideas in smaller doses and had more time to think about them. This is an idea-book, and I like to read just a few pages at a time, ruminate, then figure out how I can incorporate a few new ideas into my own daily life.
I'm learning to appreciate ebooks more and more as time goes by, and excellent books such as this one just make me want to read more. In fact, I'd like to see more from Ms. Whittington. She encouraged me to keep living in the past, while creating a possible future one for my grandchildren. I don't feel weird any more.
Claiming Your History may be purchased as a Kindle ebook from RootsBooks.com and from Amazon at http://goo.gl/euOjv