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November 20, 2017 Brigitte Ganger

Finding Your Roots with Beyond the Dash: Preserving Your Family Legacy

Book review

Finding Your Roots with Beyond the Dash: Preserving Your Family Legacy
Buy this comprehensive guide on conducting your own family history research on Amazon. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Julie Bonner)

If you're interested in studying your family tree but don't know where to start, you aren't alone. Many people wish to capture their family histories, but lack the resources, knowledge and confidence to dive right in. If this is you, look no further than Beyond the Dash: Preserving Your Family Legacy, by Dr. Julie Bonner. When I discovered a book that shares the name of our community of life story tellers, I knew I had to meet the author.

That meeting came earlier this year, when I got a chance to visit with Dr. Julie Bonner in person. We met to discuss the book, the study of family history, and living your dash to the fullest.

In the spirit of the dash, she admits that when conducting on-the-ground family history research, it's all about the journey. Exploring stories, not producing a book, should be your main goal. 

Genealogy in itself is a Bonner family legacy. Dr. Bonner's parents were a pair of amateur historians, road tripping across the country armed with just an RV and curiosity.

"Sometimes they struck gold, sometimes it was a bust, but they had a good time!"

Beyond the Dash: Preserving Your Family Legacy is a practical how-to manual, written in a conversational style. It's a compelling way to learn about the study of family history. The guide to genealogy is interwoven with family anecdotes, with none of the dryness that seems to bog down too many textbooks.

What is genealogy?

Genealogy is the study of tracing family lines. And once you start exploring, you can often discover a cornucopia of fascinating and entertaining stories. Letters, antiques, photographs and recordings will help you piece stories together. Once you have collected some historical items, you need a way to organize, index and preserve them. It's especially important to do this early and do it right, so you can easily locate all of your hard work.

"I want to create a trail that endures. Stories that have been passed down from generation to generation orally need to be recorded before they are forgotten."

But, she makes it clear: it's about more than preserving family records or knowing where you came from.

"It's about handing down a life's work to the next generation. I don't have any children, so these family stories are my legacy. If my niece or nephew want to, they can use it as a guide to learn how to research."

That's why the book is so accessible. Anyone with an interest in learning more about recording life stories can use it. As a beginner, you can use the supplied writing templates to record your own family history book. 

Preserve photos, documents and memories, then build your family tree.(Shutterstock)

Overcome technical barriers

Technical requirements have always been a barrier to researching my own family history. Tools like computers, microphones, camera equipment and information storage are complex to use. They can also become expensive.  The book offers all the tips and tricks you need to find and use research tools.  You will learn all the ways to start your family history research—without breaking the bank. Dr. Bonner takes all the guesswork out of it, so readers can focus on what matters: recording life stories.

Explore tried-and-true research techniques, learn to gather artefacts, and write your own history. If you have ever wanted to start your own family tree, Beyond the Dash: Preserving Your Family Legacy is the place to start.

Buy Beyond the Dash: Preserving Your Family Legacy now!

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