Pinky Pie

The Blood Detective, Personal History & Me

Posted on: July 3, 2010

1A137 is quickly recognized as a reference to British genealogy records. I'll not reveal more.“Like a potato plant, the best part of family history lies below the surface. By digging deep, the stories of the dead, silent through the years, could be told once more.”

–       Dan Waddell, The Blood Detective

As a personal historian and member of the Association of Personal Historians, we like to say, “we save lives … one story at a time.”

The work of collecting family stories and combining them with photos in a book is a passion of mine. I love connecting the generations in personal, family, organizational and business histories. It’s inspiring and powerful for the families and inspiring – not to mention fun – for me. It helps generations to appreciate where they came from and to recognize the resiliency of previous generations.

I never really considered myself a crime solver, however, a reason that I love a book called The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell. I stumbled across the book at the library. The story is centered on genealogist Nigel Barnes helping British police officers solve a murder.  (Could the name, Nigel Barnes, be any more British?) It is apparently the first in a series about the crime-solving family historian.

I knew I had to write about it because it touches on my personal history passion. I also kicked myself for not coming up with the idea of the personal historian solving crimes through historic documents. After all, crime-fighting detectives have been found in novels based in quilt shops, in bakeries and in the minds of cats (easier than herding the cats).

Waddell’s words, “By digging deep, the stories of the dead, silent through the years, could be told once more,” sent me instantly to my laptop. They ring true in both fiction and nonfiction.

I am not a genealogist, per se, although I do dig into records. What I appreciate most are listening to stories and also finding newspaper articles and other records to support the stories I hear. My work allows those who have died to speak.

It also is a way to teach history. I sneak in the ‘back story” (historical events of the time) to support what clients say in interviews. And, when I do the research for the history behind the stories, I continue to learn and appreciate what I heard and read.

I have never thought of the potential of being a crime-fighting/solving personal historian. But Waddell is showing the potential of using the past to assist the present and inspire the future.

I gotta get back to the book. Oh, I’m available to uncover your family mysteries.


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