Tips from a Toy Tractor and Wagon

I splurged and purchased this International Harvester Tractor and wagon at an antique mall near me over the holidays. It would make a great illustration for a genealogy tip, but the problem was writing a tip that it could be used to illustrate.

Touching, feeling, or seeing matters. Physical objects can be great memory joggers. It’s not always possible to take items with you when interviewing someone, but asking about certain items or having pictures of them (even stock images found online) can be a great way to get a conversation started. One never knows when an inanimate object will jog someone’s memory about actual humans.

Color matters. There were many colors of tractors at the antique mall, but red was the color I needed because that’s the ones I had as a child. Color images of actual records can contain detail not obvious in a black and white or grayscale image and some genealogists find using colored pencils or other coloring schemes helpful in organizing information or noticing patterns.

Location matters. The location of the antique mall was in the heart of “John Deere country.” Those toy tractors (green ones–wrong color for me) were priced significantly higher than the ones that I purchased. Location matters in genealogy as well since many records are organized by geographic location and much searching is contingent on geography.

If you are looking for something to jog your memories in order to write about your own early life, your memories of your parents, grandparents, etc. an antique mall may be the place to go. Just leave most of your money at home or you may end up spending more for a slightly used version of your favorite toy, “dish like Mom had,” etc. than you ever thought you would.

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