The idea for this comes from my parents and, to a degree our children. My father’s dad and brothers worked on their family history even before I was born. My father finished it and sent it out to family members. I cherish my copy.
My mother has also been working on her family history. As she doesn’t type, I’m the transcriber. It’s difficult to remember to type while I’m reading it. I’ve not only learned a lot about my family, I’m learning history from a different perspective.
My husband’s side of the family has been more elusive. His grandfather was an immigrant that didn’t speak a lot of English. There are no family stories that were passed down. Thanks to our daughter, the internet and ancestry.com that is changing.
The information gathered does a lot more than just tell me about my ancestors. When/if you decide to work on your family history you may find some important knowledge.
Medical History: Family stories, birth and death records can help doctors know what to look for in patients. If many of your ancestors died of a certain disease, that can be tested and in many cases prevented. There are also diseases that affect people from certain regions. This, too, can be watched for and countered.
Knowledge: Knowing basic history is important. Having a part in it via an ancestor makes it easier to remember. In some cases, it could alter our understanding of history. As an example, one of our ancestors took part in a raid in the Revolutionary War. They blocked a trail in front of a supply train and while the Redcoats were clearing the blockage, my ancestors cleared most of the supplies. Now I’m curious…what else did they get into?
Connecting Generations: In this modern age, we’re often so busy working with technology that we don’t stay connected with distant family…unless it’s on social media. When I was a child, we often spent time sitting on our grandmother’s front porch listening to stories about the family. Even though I only saw my great grandmother a few times, her life story has been passed on this way. Through my mother’s family history it will be passed on to our children and grandchildren. It helps keep us a family…and connected.
Whether you do it for fun or for vital information, learning your family history is a good idea. You may not like everything you find out, but it could help save your life, inspire you and connect you with family you didn’t know you had.