Genealogy Friday: The Dash Matters

posted in: Genealogy | 0

In genealogy we often see dates written as 1865-1932 or May 5, 1865-June 3, 1932.

As genealogists we often focus on the two dates that are provided, the birth and death date {or year} for our ancestor. However, what about that tiny dash that serves as a connection between those two dates.make most of the dash

The dash does matter!  The dash represents the life of an individual.  While it’s nice to know their birth and death dates, what is more important is understanding the life lived, events that were important in the person’s life and the people that mattered to this person.

That small dash represents all of that and so much more.  In life we all have chapters of our life.  Our childhood starts the book, followed by school, college and/or career, family, interest and hobbies, and finally the twilight years of retirement bring the book to the end.

That small dash represents these chapters and much more.  Each person is different and unique and some have more chapters than others, depending on the various changes in life such as changes in career, marital status, the times moved, etc.

While it is nice to have the names and dates for our ancestors and relatives, the more important thing is to remember to uncover the details that make up that dash in their lives.  What can we discover about each chapter of his/her life?  What stories can family and friends share about this ancestor to make them a more three or even four dimensional person, instead of a series of names and dates?

Do you make the dash matter in your research?

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