Moreover, my ancestors' souls are sustained by the atmosphere of the house, since I answer for them the questions that their lives once left behind. I carve out rough answers as best I can. I have even drawn them on the walls. It is as if a silent, greater family, stretching down the centuries, were peopling the house.

Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)

Monday, 21 April 2014

Family History Research Trap #1: The Pandora Effect

I left my Blog for some months - I hope readers will re-visit me as I continue.
As I was preparing information for the next chapter in Elizabeth's life, I became aware that the facts I know - from newspaper mentions - showed her lurching from one disaster, trauma and sticky situation to another. I call this "The Pandora Effect". As family history researchers, most of us enjoy 
Pandora (looks inside the box) , 1896, J. W. Waterhouse
interest, colour and excitement. We can, however, get a skewed picture from our sources because there is an underlying agenda - a point of view - of the commentator. This is usually in keeping with the thought of the times on social issues. Do a little background research, and find strong beliefs about poverty, disadvantage and the place of women and children. It feels as if we have let loose some demons from the past. So I have found I need to pull back a little on my feelings about Elizabeth's experience - what I found was not her whole life. Pandora did find Hope somewhere in there, after all! If this is ' Family History Research Trap #1' then #2 must be the 'Rose Coloured Glasses Syndrome' where researchers smooth out uncomfortable truths or ignore the reality of the times. There are some family histories I have read connected with my own family where the players almost achieve cult status - too good to be true! The truth (subjective as it is) lies somewhere in the middle......onwards to 'No rest for Elizabeth - blended family woes'.

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