The past month or so was really busy for me because of some unexpected traveling I did. These trips allowed me to see and spend time with my Chicago family for a weekend and the next weekend I was able to spend time with some of my college friends. It’s always good to see family and friends even if it’s for a sad occasion like a funeral. When my college friends and I get together we always tell stories and reminisce about our time together at the University of Arkansas. These are women that I have known for over 20 years. These are the women that know my story better than most. I don’t get to see my family and friends as often as I would like. So it was nice to sit down and catch up on everyone’s everyday lives and relive some our good old days. We talked and laughed, and it was like we had never been apart.
This time I was able to spend with my family and friends got me to thinking about a genealogy research principle that I had read about a while ago. I’m talking about the FAN principle used by genealogists to list Friends, Associates, and Neighbors of your ancestors. Your FAN club can be a great research technique that can help break down brick walls and help you learn more about your ancestors lives and their communities. This principle is the brain child of genealogist, Elizabeth Shawn Mills.
I have used this principle throughout this journey many times without even knowing it. I used it when I reached out to Ms. Minnie in Augusta to look at her funeral program collection. I used it when I asked Ms. Kathy to go with me to cemeteries last year. I used it when I asked Coach Lewis how he met and became friends with my father. These are people I’m not related to, but they are people who went to school with my family, people who grew up in the same neighborhood as my family, and people that have known my family since before I was born. My FAN club includes members of my hometown churches, members of the Order of Eastern Star, and high school and college friends of my family just to name a few.
Your FAN club can give you different stories about your relatives than family members sometimes. Your FAN club can give you a glimpse into a part of your relatives life that you didn’t even know about. My FAN club has been a wonderful source of information and support for me during this journey. And this is why my journey continues…