The most powerful tool in your genealogy toolbox is not what you think! Learn how powerful a cup of coffee can be to your search for ancestors.
Genealogy Research,  How To Trace Your Family Tree,  Oral Sources of History

The Most Powerful Tool in Your Genealogy Toolbox

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A cup of coffee is  the most powerful tool in your genealogy toolbox.

No, that coffee is NOT to help you stay awake while you read 1820 tax records line by line. Nor is it for those late night research sessions when you were really “just doing a quick look-up”. [It can help, though. 🙂 ]

Let me explain.

The Most Powerful Tool in Your Genealogy Toolbox

When I began researching my family’s genealogy, much of what I learned at first came from great conversations with older members of my family over a cup of coffee. Now, a number of years later I find  having a conversation with a newly found cousins a delightful way to spend time and further genealogical pursuits.

Over a cup of coffee:

  • I learned my grandmother sheared the door handle off the side of her car while on the way to take her driver’s license test. (Can you tell I’m in the midst of teaching a teen to drive?)
  • I learned  the story behind a 1946 photograph of Haley cousins.
  • I learned my great aunt was(is) a great athlete. In her 80’s she was hitting baseballs with the youngest membersof the family!
  • I learned who taught my grandfather to fish.
  • I learned where the bodies  are buried! (Oops! I meant to say “where the ancestors are buried”.)
  • I learned why my grandmother so disliked to wear green.
  • I learned how not to get locked in an outhouse. (NO, it  wasn’t me!)
Coffee cup with cappuccino

I dare you to find facts like these in the “official” genealogy records.

Let me encourage you to seek out more distant cousins and collateral family members. Many of the stories I collected over a cup a coffee were not from my immediate relatives.

So…..UNPLUG your genealogy.  Step away from the computer.

Grab a cup of coffee or two.

[In case you are wondering….this is a favorite coffee and this is my all time favorite coffee “mug”. It keeps my coffee nice and hot.]

Go have a conversation with a family member.

 Leave a comment and share what fun and useful genealogical facts you have discovered over a cup of coffee.


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  • Cherie Atkinson Clark

    Great post! I need to start writing down the stories I remember before it’s too late! For example, I may be the only person who remembers hearing Great Uncle Selwyn tell everyone that he learned to drive by getting in the car and doing what he had seen everyone else do? And Uncle Selwyn taught my dad to drive…which explains a lot! 🙂

    • LisaL

      Oh yes, Cherie, write those stories down! I am amazed at some of those crazy driving stories I hear. Lots of my family learned to drive on a relative’s farm and they tell all kinds of crazy things they ran into!

  • Lisa Mings

    I started writing down all the stories I had either heard, or had been told a few years ago. My Mother died of Alzheimer’s last year and that gave me a whole new perspective on how we can lose our memory in a very very short time. I heard so many from my mom but I know she still had many many more that she didn’t get to share. Never put off talking to family thinking there will be time because we don’t always.

    Great post Lisa.

    Lisa Mings

    • LisaL

      So sorry to hear of your mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. Having those stories and the memories of collecting them is a wonderful heritage you will be able to pass on as well.

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