Sunday, September 12, 2010

Family Memoirs: Don't Forget Your Personal Migration Stories

I am very interested in historical migration, where people went and why. That often gets me thinking about the present. I notice with my own family that we have certain annual migration patterns - visiting family, regular vacation spots, etc.

When I think about my own annual migration pattern it often gets me thinking about past generations and their migrations patterns. If I go on vacation to the same spot every year or visit my siblings, then maybe past generations did the same.

In my mind I am shifting from thinking about the big historic lifetime migrations, say out of New England to the West, to the smaller annual migrations families make. Much can be learned by looking at the annual migrations patterns.

In our own lives our we often overlook our own migration patterns as unimportant. It's just a vacation or visit after all. However, future generations may wonder why did you go to Montreal every year? Without a family connection they may be left wondering.

For instance, my great grandfather, Seeber Edwards, lived his whole adult life in Providence, Rhode Island. Yet I know that he was born on a farm in Glen, Montgomery County, New York. A number of his siblings continued to live out their lives in Glen. I also know that he purchased property in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Whether it was just land or a property with a house on it, I don't know. With this information I can reconstruct that his annual migration patterns may have included one or two of these locations.

Each generation has different migration patterns. My father was raised in a different state than I was. His connections were different too. With the frequency that people move these days, personal migration patterns can change every decade or perhaps even less.

Write Your Story Now

Do your children, grandchildren and descendants a favor and write a brief description of the migration patterns so far in your own life. Let them know why you spent a week in a cottage in Maine every summer. Or stopped to feed the ducks every year at a certain pond in Rhode Island. For that matter, let them know you that you attended the county fair each year.

If you can, write down your parents' migration patterns too. Or better yet, if they are still around, ask them to write it!

Get writing folks! Don't leave your history to public records that may be closed or lost in a digital catastrophe. Give your descendants their own history book to learn from.


  1. Great ideas, Marian! I'm one of those who advocates writing *anything* so our descendants can get a feel for us and *who we were*; yet, I haven't written regularly, shame on me. You give inspiration!

  2. Great idea! Even my living relative wonder why we go out to Colorado every year - what will future generations think...if they even know. I know that my Mom's family took many vacations - think I'll talk to her more about those.

  3. Marian, I've thought for years that my descendants were going to go insane trying to follow my grandparents, parents and then my own family through our "migrations" with all the times I have moved. I've tried to leave a good trail of bread crumbs...maybe they will be able to follow...especially if I write down some of it so they have clues!