Genealogy is the process of understanding the history of one’s family. Genealogists seem to believe in the resurrection, that is, bringing the dead back to life, or, at least, finding awakening to bring forth perceptive and helpful material. For me, my family history efforts have in many ways brought my grandmother back from the dead even though she was buried almost 50 years ago.
You and I are not alone in pursuing our desire to know about our roots, our family origins, stories from a past we may know a lot, a little, or nothing. In that proverbial pursuit of happiness over a lifetime many get the itch to investigate their heritage. Many admit that once begun, spending long hours hunting, turning over photos, on line resources, asking relatives for stories can lead to an obsession, an endless addiction to find out more and more. Like a 1,000-piece jig saw puzzle that sits on a card table waiting for yet another piece, hours and hours are spent assembling most often an eventual unique heritage picture that no one person might ever have seen.
Genealogy and searching for family history are increasingly very hot topics. Since the 2003 Human Genome Project mapped the human DNA sequence other advances in technology have grown and science now can quickly and cost-effectively read and interpret a person’s genetic code. We are aware that with the ever-growing data base of genetic information inferences are made about human evolution, inheritance and heritable diseases. Some are submitting saliva samples with the intention of finding information with some degree of accuracy: parents, siblings, half-siblings, aunts, uncles and information like which pair of great-grandparents they share. No wonder DNA testing has triggered an unprecedented race to find out more about who we are and from whom we have come.
Stories told around the fire since the beginning of time by elders is a well-known phenomenon by anthropologists to explain how cultures pass along wisdom and traditions that inspire and ground the roots of peoples all across the globe from one generation to the next. Before we die, many like to leave behind some kind of legacy picture in word or print that proves our existence, and perhaps make a statement that each of us might humbly prefer that we are not entirely forgotten. What is the character of which we are made and what remnants of the character do we seek to leave behind?
Family history has been described as the second biggest hobby in the US after gardening and is the second biggest activity on the internet after pornography. The drama of discovery and longing to connect with our ancestors, our heritage, has of late provoked an unprecedented explosion of international interest. In the 1970’s and 80’s Americans launched into determined pursuit devouring resources touching on ancestry and genealogy. This growing popularity and interest became assisted by technology opening avenues and connections to explore one’s roots, uncover personal stories and discover unknown ethnic origins and identities.
The genetic heritage industry in our world is growing by leaps and bounds. This DNA personal testing craze is not the crystal ball gazing of the middle ages or phony carnival entertainment. Science now suggests that this testing has validity and reliability keystones of bona fide research. The human genome project breakthrough is real and for under $100, millions are pursuing one’s physical selves better and science now helps reveals linkages of how participating inquirers might be connected to other members of the global human family
Once begun the attraction to chase down information about one’s heritage can be addictive. Today, curiosity and a host of other motives drive hours and hours of investigation by people of all ages. On line available resources make it possible for most research to be accomplished from the comfort of one’s home. Safe to say, the author was bitten by the genealogy bug, and was never the same. Digging into family genealogy is like taking a drink of water from a firehose, you might end up with quenching your thirst, however, it might well turn out to be a really painful experience in the process. Genealogy research can lead to discovering many satisfying and insightful information worth knowing about one’s ancestors and the way they handled the past. However, researchers sometimes encounter previously unknown uncomfortable family secrets that are, in hindsight beneficial in applying wisdom gained as useful life lessons for one’s future
What can we learn from the life stories of our ancestors? What benefits can be derived and applied to those that yet have a life ahead of them? There is great value in store for the curious that seek to learn: more about the mysteries that detail how our families managed adversity; to learn how fore-bearers dealt with setbacks; to learn how heroic family members kept going strong refusing to give up or give in to failure; to learn how ancestors took advantage of their own roots, stories passed along, family traditions and legacies in order to find their own unique ways to take their turn at advancing themselves. 2020 hindsight derived from focusing a vision of understanding life lessons of the past offer these nuggets of gold to be used as a driving force to prepare and support us on our own life’s journey. It is reported that in most every family, one person that might step up and assume the responsibility to collect family puzzle pieces and create a mosaic picture of the past to pass along for the future. Technology has opened up new horizons into an unknown or forgotten past. There is a genealogical revival going on. Connections to Plymouth Rock or Ellis Island are of high interest to many.