I've been juggling a few too many projects for the last few days, including the decision of how to restructure my blog (Yes, that is why my posts keep getting put up late!). In the process, I've thought about some questions that I would have had to answer if I had started my Luxembourger research from scratch. I can think of two big ones: where was my family actually from and how did they get the United States?
I didn't have to answer these questions. I have my family's starting village - and, though it took me a few extra steps, what port they came through. Why? Because my family had a strong oral tradition that indicated both. There was a bit of confusion. We'd been told that my ancestor came up the Mississippi before settling in the Dubuque area. This was true of one of my ancestor's uncles, but not true of my direct line (who came through New York). However, the story gave me the basic roots and made research a lot easier.
I was lucky. The story was passed down basically intact from generation to generation. Combine that with the ancestors who were smart enough to write things down, and I had what I needed to do my research. For that reason, I wanted to recommend one thing. If you have an oral history in your family, write it down. You may not be able to make sense of it now. Eventually someone will.