You and Albert Einstein May Have This in Common

Is a cluttered desk a familiar sight to you? Maybe you and Albert Einstein have something in common. Or maybe you’re more like tenacious photographer Ralph Morse, who captured the now-famous image of Einstein’s desk the day he died.

Many a genealogist has written to me over the years, heaping discontent on their own heads because of their lack of organization. They are sure that those piles of papers, sticky notes and backs of napkins mean failure on their part. I always assure them that it is the sign of a prolific researcher. I also do my best to share strategies that can help ease the clutter.

But as you can see from an iconic and rare photo of Albert Einstein’s desk published in this Time article online, you are in great company indeed. This image was snapped just hours after his passing 61 years ago today.

The story of this photo is as important as the message it conveys. It’s a story of tenacity: the willingness of one photographer to think outside the box and ask for what he wanted. Certainly this is a trait worthy of a family historian emulating.

Like many other journalists and reporters, Ralph Morse jumped in his car and headed to Princeton when he heard the news of Einstein’s death. The difference between him and the others, however, was that he came prepared with a case of Scotch he picked up along the drive.

I appreciate this part of the story because it reminds me of a piece of advice that I always give in my class on how to find living relatives: “Never show up empty handed.” If we’re going to stretch our hand out in hopes of receiving advice, copies of documents or access to genealogical information, there ought to be something in that hand for the person assisting us. For example, I keep a stack of hard-cover photo books I had made up on my various family lines, ready and waiting to be given to any newly found cousins I hope to interview. (Hmm, should I bring Scotch instead? But I digress….)

Morse approached the building superintendent at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (where Einstein’s had his office) with a bottle of Scotch and a request to look inside. He received immediate, and exclusive, access. The result was an entire series of iconic and totally unique photos.

Guilt over a lack of organization has ground many a productive genealogy research afternoon to a screeching halt. And although good organization is certainly worth striving for, it’s not worthy of derailing your passion for family history.

Although a picture speaks a thousand words, I think I’ll give the last word to Einstein himself:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Genealogy Organization Gems For You

How to Save Time and Actually FIND the Ancestors You’re Looking For

How to Organize Digital Pictures

Cloud Storage and Computer Backup: Why Have Both

 

 

 

How to Share Family History with the Non-Genealogists in Your Family

How can you share family history stories and memories without boring your relatives? Catch this free video preview of a new Premium video class that inspires YOU on how to inspire THEM!

Inspiring Ways to Captivate the Non-Genealogist; how to share family history

If you are researching your family tree but haven’t shared it with your family in a way that sparks their interest, then you are only experiencing half of the joy of genealogy! And if your descendants don’t grasp the importance of their heritage, your hard work may tragically find it’s way to the city dump when you are gone.

New Video Filled with Inspiration

Don’t just collect your family history and store it away in binders and files! In her newest Genealogy Gems Premium video, Lisa Louise Cooke shares several projects–displays, multimedia shows, crafts–even a sweet treat to eat! The World War II display shown here is just one of her ideas.

military heritage display

She’ll inspire YOU on how best to inspire your family’s interest in your heritage.

Watch the free preview below on how to share family history with the non-genealogists in your life. ( Genealogy Gems Premium website members can watch the whole thing here (along with more than 2 dozen videos) as a perk of their membership. Premium website members also have access to our monthly Premium podcast and all archived episodes. Click here to learn more! And keep scrolling down to click on more blog posts with great ideas for sharing your heritage.

Additional Resources

Thanks for sharing this post with others who will want a little more inspiration on how to share family history with loved ones. Just email the URL or post this article on your favorite social media channel.

 

Free Video: How to Read a Faded Tombstone Without Damaging the Stone

Tombstone editRecently I heard from listener Tom, who is trying to document Civil War veterans from Washington state. “I am taking pictures of their headstones,” he says. “I currently use just a spray bottle and soft brush to wash away the 100 years plus of dirt so I can better see and photograph the inscriptions. Do you have a better way to clean and photograph or maybe rub the headstones?”

I don’t recommend tombstone rubbings because each time a genealogist does that it wears the headstone down just a little bit more, causing deterioration.

However, I have a better solution for how to read a faded tombstone. I created a free video based on an article I wrote for Family buy serc medication Tree Magazine. It’s called Grave Transformations and you can watch it for free on Family Tree Magazine’s YouTube channel or just watch below. The idea is that instead of touching the headstone at all, you can simply manipulate your photographic images of it instead! Watch the video and you’ll see those faded letters come back into view. It’s pretty cool!

Family History and Genealogy on YouTubeDid you know the Genealogy Gems You Tube Channel has over 70 free videos on a wide variety of genealogical topics? Click to go to our channel’s home page. Be sure to click the SUBSCRIBE button on the channel so that you won’t miss our new videos when they are published!

Pin It on Pinterest

MENU