There is something that happens when a genealogist gets the answers. Information missing for years becomes knowledge and understanding in the hands of the genealogy researcher. People and places lost to time and busy lives revive. Family secrets, long held, may slowly be revealed.
When the genealogist accumulates such an ancestral–and emotional–treasure trove, what does one do?
Many will make family trees. Drawn and digitized. Some craft elaborate hand-drawn trees with many branches. Others compile intricate lists and charts and store them on computer.
Then, there is writer Jacob M. Appel. He has chosen to incorporate his family history research into words and stories. He creates narratives for the family answers he has found.
In his most recent book, Phoning Home, essays published by South Carolina University Press, 2014, Appel weaves in his family’s details from their old world of Denmark into their new place in America.
But this is no ordinary family tree or story. Appel’s is one imbued with genius, colorful and humorous.
The reader understands the findings of the genealogy researcher and from this can see Appel’s genetic genealogy. Revealed is the Holocaust history, the lineage of talent, the professions old and new. He explores his grandfathers and his great grandfathers. He gives details on the family’s holiday celebrations. He details the foods they ate. He tells the secrets they kept. He explores lost loves.
This is no ordinary family tree. And yet, it is.
Some genealogists have writing talent. They make family books and hand them out at family reunions. My ex-husband’s third cousin who just died had done this for the family. These family history researcher treasures are special editions. Limited in their numbers, they are written just for descendants.
Upon that relative’s passing, everyone remembered his contribution to that family’s ancestry. His limited edition had mini black and white portraits of each member of the official Family Circle. There was a time line and an acutal family tree. Everything was bound in a white hard cover with gold lettering on the front. This Cousin Herb never republished it. The family’s new generations will have another thing to inherit from their parents. Hopefully, they will spawn a genealogy researcher or two.
Appel, on the other hand, is truly a smart cookie of a genealogist.
He’s making money on them. The silent agreement is that the world will know all about his family’s stories. Would my ancestors tolerate that? If they were dead, perhaps.
Appel makes meaning. He takes the found records and gives them life. He redraws the picture of the men learning a trade or getting married and colors it all in–vividly.
His family members seem like people you know in your own genealogy research. You are in his world but also your world for the time you are reading this little gem of a book. Appel helps every genealogy researcher see what is possible. He gives permission to every family history researcher who has been hiding in the documents. We, too, can make a story. When we see who Jacob M. Appel is and who he has become, every genealogist can be inspired. Voice in the genealogy is sometimes the missing link. with this writer, we can see what is possible. And we can enjoy his vision of present, past and future. It provides the depth of spirit and joy in the ancestral information that most of us always hope to make.
A RecordClick genealogist will write your family history for you. RecordClick’s professional genealogists do the research and writing and put it all together for your family.