Genealogy, the science of searching for one’s family roots, is said to be the fastest growing hobby in the country. And for my money, it is a good thing and not any too soon. Investigating ancestry and family histories turns up all kinds of stories, disputes, and long-lost relatives. It builds identity, connection and the capacity to create a brand-new support system.
The interest in our personal heritage is not a new thing by any means. For centuries families have been passing along stories of who our ancestors were and tales about their lives. This was the stuff of front porch evenings and often part of the process of passing on skills from one generation to the next. It was important to have grandmother and granddaddy or Uncle Cletus and Aunt Sarah Belle living under the same roof or at least just down the street.
Letters, diaries and Bibles are excellent sources of information. For centuries the written word was the most common form of communication. Illiteracy was not the obstacle one might imagine, as those that could not write would often find someone to do it for them. The most important events of births, deaths and marriages were recorded in the family bible.
Historians have grave concerns for the future of personal records. The written word has become a rarity in the average household. Why bother writing to a friend or family member when you can pick up the cell phone and send a text? It certainly is quick and easy but leaves little record for future generations and rarely affords the opportunity for detail!
Ironically, it is that same sort of technological advances more specifically on the Internet that have been the impetus for more extensive research. Data that previously could only be accessed through tedious and time consuming on-site manual research is now available online. Relatives can discover one another through chat rooms and family history sites.
And let’s not forget all the acronym groups that foster the search and recordation of ancestry tied to some significant occurrence; the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Sons of the Confederacy (SOC), Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War (DUVCW) and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Sons and Daughters of the Middle Passage (SDMP) just to name a few.
And now there is a tsunami of new clues and paths to follow through the science of genetic testing and DNA. Beware! It is not as simple as it appears.
There is a plethora of resources for a genealogical exploration but be prepared to get tired and frustrated and you may also find it necessary to seek a bit of help.
To be continued….
Until next week, be well.