Genealogy For the Future: Genealogy Isn’t Just About Digging Up The Past

Genealogy isn’t just about digging up the past, it’s about keeping our history alive for the future, and also to help us understand better who we are in the now.

Who we are as individual people is largely owed to our family history, from the genes we’re made up of to the experiences and perspectives passed down to us during our most formative years, from biology to language and other cultural lessons and the more nuanced practices intrinsic to families. While society at large has a big role in forming who we become as adults, our family ties are usually stronger than any other influence.

This concept can be seen most clearly when observing the lives of immigrants, or certain religious groups, people in their various regions and so on (and in observing others we can better understand ourselves by contrast). All the things that set them apart, make them unique unto themselves- things like the language they use in their homes, the ideas they pass to their children, the traditions they hold on to while also embracing the new in a new land. It’s these things that genealogists and historians, sociologists and anthropologists strive to understand so that we can fully appreciate where we are. To begin to explain the things we do without any knowledge of why or where they came from. One cannot truly know where one is without first knowing the path taken to get there- especially if that path is the result of many paths merging.

This is what makes genealogy both interesting and necessary. The history behind our family history can give us perspective into the hardships and triumphs it took to give us the opportunities we have now, it can give us an appreciation for why members of our family behaved they way they did, it can tell us about the diseases we may be at risk for, and so on. It’s certainly not fundamental to our overall survival, but it does give us something deeper to connect us in this life, that we are the part of something very important, that even the minutia can have an impact on someone in our future and actually be interesting to them….


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