History is so much more than a class we take in high school. Learning about your family history can be an enriching positive experience, and in some ways prepare you for the future. Genealogy may seem like a dry boring pursuit, but as you will see, there are several reasons you may want to invest a little time in family history lessons.
Creating and Preserving Family’s Oral History
There was a time when all family history was passed down through the generations orally; this kept the family traditions and history alive for each successive generation. Unfortunately, in a technological fast-paced world this has largely fallen by the wayside. Today, many families are lucky if a member knows the names and origins of the previous two generations. By learning your family history, you can provide your children and even grand children with a rich oral tradition. (Backed up of course by hard copy data!)
Do you understand the history and significance of given names in your family tree? This can vary greatly depending on your ethnic background. For example, most western families tend to honor their ancestors (grandma, grandpa, mother, father etc…) by naming their children after them. However, in Chinese tradition this is actually offensive, historically. Inspiration for given names can come from many sources, not the least of which are:
- Family names- passed down
- Biblical Names– Mary, John, Joshua, Martha, Elizabeth
- Translations from other languages- Francis comes from Franciscus or Frenchman
- Items in nature- Peter means rock- Rose (self-explanatory)
- Places of Birth- Lorraine, Brittany
- Modern Day- Pop culture has shown a large influence on given names today. Layla, Kiera and Wendy are just three examples of obscure names that became popular due to songs, movies and stories.
Where does your family bloodline originate? What do you really know about your family history? Perhaps you have always wondered if there was a touch of royal lineage back there or some more notorious connections? Even if you dont find a Duke or Duchess on one of the branches you may find several inspiring stories of ancestors who perservered through some of the nations toughest times. Moreover, you may find lines who immigrated to other countries!
Finally, one of the more important reasons to trace your family history is genetics. Have you noticed that some in your family seem to live extraordinarily long lives while others seem to share certain medical issues? Genetics are responsible for your height, build, weight (to a degree), hair/ eye color and certain illnesses. Understanding your genetic heritage could help you avoid heart trouble, diabetes and many other illnesses. By realizing you are predisposed to heart trouble, for example, you could exercise more, avoid smoking and perhaps extend your life!
Learning about family history does not have to be boring, when you realize just how much you can learn. As technology and science advances, there are even DNA tests that can give you a glimpse into your ancient bloodlines. Have you always thought you were of European decent? You might be surprised at what these tests reveal.