A young family set out on a 22-hour road trip to go and visit family in a faraway state. Their goal was to make the trip in two, long days. There would not be time for long stops or sightseeing along the way. Several hours into their journey they came across a stranded motorist needing help changing a flat tire. Despite their tight schedule, when the family saw the car with a flat tire, the dad quickly pulled over, helped change the tire, and then proceeded on their journey.
About a week later on the return trip, this time the young family found themselves stranded on the side of the road. A kind man pulled over, helped the family get their car running again, and sent them on their way. Helping our fellow travelers get to their destinations safely can result in good karma.
Family history can be like a road journey in many ways. We have research goals, project goals, and usually a large list of documents to research or scan, places to visit, and discoveries to make in our limited time. Why stop our own journey to help someone else on theirs? Because karma works in genealogy journeys too!
Here are two small examples of how taking a few minutes to help someone else might enrich your own work. First, in scanning old family photos, I kept coming across photos of non-relatives. Obviously these people were important to my ancestors but I had no clue who they were. Fortunately, names and places were written on the back of the photos and in one case, even their birth dates! I decided to spend a few minutes searching for this family on FamilySearch. If I found them, I could upload the photo and maybe someday it would be discovered by their posterity.
So that is what I did. It only took a few minutes to correctly identify one of the children in a photo in FamilySearch and then another few minutes to upload the photo. I then went back to scanning my own family photos and forgot all about the picture of the non-relatives.
Several months later I received an email: “Where did you get this photo of my grandpa? We’ve never seen a picture of him as a boy!” I explained where I got the photo and my ancestor who had it. A few days later I got a beautiful email from an 85 year old lady, the youngest child in the photo. She went on about how she loved my great-grandparents and how they were her second parents growing up. She spent much time in their home as her own mother was very sick and could not take care of the children. This kind lady offered insights into the character and life of my great-grandparents! It was a treasure to me! Good karma returned to enrich my own family history.
The second example is also with a non-relative photo. A quick search in FamilySearch did not turn up the family I was looking for. So I turned to Google to start looking for obituaries. I found one! I then searched for a phone number or email of one of the children in the photographs. She was just a few years old back in 1944. After a few wrong phone numbers and dead ends, I located an email address and sent off a message. About an hour later I got a response! She was elated to get my message and was anxious to see the photos. Ironically, we even live in the same state and will be setting up a time to meet in person. She says she wants to share stories of my great-aunt who was her favorite nanny growing up and even helped her after her own children were born. I’m looking forward to this meeting and what treasures it will add to my own family history!
Taking a few minutes from your own genealogy journey to help others on theirs is good karma and could even return to you ten-fold! There is beauty in sharing and helping each other on our genealogy journeys.