Six Reasons to Study Genealogy
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Six Reasons to Study Genealogy

This article lists six reasons why the study of genealogy is both entertaining and important.

Why I love to visit with dead relatives--

Genealogy is a compelling hobby for many people; some people claim that it is the most popular hobby in the world. It sounds like it is something less than exciting. Can the adherents give you give a reason why you should spend hours studying bad handwriting and sifting through dusty documents when gardening and shopping are waiting for you? Well, here are a few I’ve found.

1. You might be able to trace your lineage to royalty and an inheritance. This sounds a little fanciful. It probably is, but it could happen. You might be connected to someone famous or wealthy. It may not get you a title or money, but it would be fun to know, anyway.

2. A family history including health concerns might give you an advantage in dealing with illnesses that are genetically transferred. It would be very advantageous to know that your family had dealt with heart disease, diabetes, or mental illness. Recognizing symptoms before they become untreatable may give you extended years of healthy life.

3. If you are looking for an interesting and historic name for a baby, your family history could provide some interesting choices. I told my daughters they could name a baby girl Mehetibel, but they resisted that one. I named one of my daughters Rebecca after an ancestor. I really liked Wiley, Ransom, and Dempsey, but nobody else did.

4. Membership in some historic organizations requires a proven lineage, for instance, the Daughters of the American Revolution. Membership in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas requires that an individual can trace his or her lineage to a resident of Texas during the time of Texas independence. My great, great, grandfather settled land in Red River County in 1838 when Texas was an independent nation. I’m not big on joining organizations, but I do love the history that goes with this somewhat notable fact.

5. Studying family history gives you a personal interest in the places, countries, and customs of the places where your ancestors lived. Recently I watched a program on TV about the language in the back woods of Tennessee. Language specialists were interested in the words and phrases peculiar to the area. I was amazed because they didn’t sound strange to me at all. They sounded a little country or old-fashioned, but then it dawned on me that my whole family had come from Eastern Tennessee over a hundred years ago. I had grown up in Texas with those words and phrases. It took me a few minutes of listening to the program to even understand why the researches thought it was peculiar.

6. Genealogy gives a person a sense of place, of where he or she fits in time as well as location. Lester J. Hartwick researched his family history and found them in Ireland in the early 1700s. He relates the comfort he experienced as an example of Abraham Maslow’s highest level in his Hierarchy of Needs. Hartwick wrote: “Through this concentrated study, I had transcended my everyday surroundings and for a few precious moments, I met and lived with my ancestors. This is what I believe Maslow meant by transcendence.”

The study of genealogy is truly a fascinating and exciting investigation into your personal history. And who knows—you may be royalty.


Sources and references:

Quillen, W. Daniel, Secrets of Tracing Your Ancestors, Cold Spring Press: NY, 2003

Glossary of Genealogical Terms

List of Free Website for Family History Research

How to Search for Family History Details

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