gaming the family tree

I tried to reblog this post from a site where I am documenting a special project, but the image went all wonky because it was from Wylio, so I’m just going to paste it here with a new image.  After thinking about gaming this weekend, I recalled this post from last summer that wondered whether working in Ancestry.com is like a game. You can see the original post here: http://pittmanlettersproject.com/2012/08/25/gaming-the-family-tree/

 Photo Credit: rebecca anne via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: rebecca anne via Compfight cc

I filled my first one hundred folders and am waiting for the next batch to arrive (archival materials are not free, unfortunately). Plus, as you know, I only work on the letters on weeknights in Cleveland. When I’m home in Erie on weekends, and like now when I’m short of materials, I need something else to do, so I’ve started playing on Ancestry.com.

I say playing because it is kind of like a combination of scavenger hunt and puzzle. I have never been a gamer, you know, playing such massive online games as World of Warcraft and the like, but genealogy searches seem to have gaming characteristics–following clues (leaf hints), achieving new levels on a family tree, rewards of unexpected discoveries. I’ve reached a few dead ends in rather recent times that have been a surprise, like not being able to find any record or reference to my paternal grandfather’s parents. I found that he lived with his grandparents at the age of 6. On the other hand, I discovered that he was the first cousin of my grandmother’s brother-in-law, Thomas Girt (married to her sister Ethel), and I bet that’s how she met him.

And speaking of my paternal grandmother, I found her first marriage license. She was married at the age of 23 in Niagara Falls, Canada, in September 1914. Her husband died the next month, but I don’t know the circumstances. She married my grandfather four years later in 1918. Do you know how they identified single women in 1914? As spinsters!

My paternal grandmother’s family, the Mongs, are plentiful and were easily traced to Germany in the 18th century. I’m sure much more can be found out about them, but I am currently playing with what’s free on Ancestry.com–yes, everything has a cost. My dear spouse might be gifting me a membership in the upcoming season of gifting, but for now, I’m limited to what is freely available, including an iPad app. Why do they offer so much for free? Because it’s like any game that entices you with discoveries and rewards, and most players want to achieve even higher levels. Pay to play.

It’s been tougher to find much about my mother’s ancestors, and I’m not sure why, but that will be one of the game’s challenges.

Most people like to visualize the family tree as the standing tree with leaves, hence the leaf hints on Ancestry.com, but I kind of like the alternative represented in this post’s image of tree rings.

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