Saturday, March 19, 2011

Collaboration

I have found genealogical reseach to be like life - many days, weeks, months go by that seem "ordinary" even though in truth within each and every segment of time something is happening on some level that propels us (whether one is going forward or backward when doing genealogy is another question altogether). What makes one day more special than another probably depends on some combination of our hopes and our expectations.

I met my cousin Janice online nearly 3 years ago when we discovered we have this Mann line (among others) in common. I guess you could say she mentored me by answering my frequent questions and offering always friendly advice and knowledgeable perspectives. We have taken to sharing not only every resource we come across but also our every thought on the subject of Mann's and the times in which they lived. We wonder together, and we cheer each other up when sometimes it feels there is really no sane reason for intelligent people to be spending their time this way. I have often imagined us separately and together physically turning the computer upside down and shaking it violently as if that effort must certainly yield us results and for no other reason than we have proven that we want to know that badly. Sometimes, occasionally, perhaps in association with the phase of the moon, this methodology works.

Like last night. Janice and I were exchanging emails at midnight - pounding the cyber-waves with our thoughts, ideas, questions. Then at 1:02 a.m. comes a simple email entitled "DAR". Attached was a PDF which she had just purchased from the DAR website for $10. It was an application from Rosalie S. Young, listing Ernest Mann, Ancestor #A073424 as her Revolutionary Ancestor.

It's not that we never checked the DAR before, but apparently their site never yielded much but an index, which never seemed to produce anything that was useful to us at the time. Ah but like so many things, the DAR site has been updated! If you haven't thought of it before or recently, think of it again: http://services.dar.org/Public/DAR_Research/search/?Tab_ID=1&Tab_ID_Sub=1&Action=Search

It's hard to know what I want to say exactly. To Janice. To the DAR. To Rosalie Young, descended from Rachel Mann Beers who submitted her application in 1949. What does it mean exactly to do all this research and to know with no doubt whatever that it would not be possible without thanks to people I have not actually ever met in person. And for this technology being put to such amazing use because of the dedicated drive of historical researchers to share what they know. Even when they know what they don't know and might likely never know, they work mind, body and spirit in the trust that somebody else will recognize a piece of our stories and our heritage.

Of course, there is always more to do, and I'm glad because I don't really want it to totally end. But today, I pause to celebrate my cousins present and past and all the circumstances that have enabled us to journey together in understanding both our history and our lives today. And to all the Ernest Mann's and all their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, and sons and daughters, I am proud to be a part of this collective remembering.

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