I’ve had this thought many times over the years. I’ve thought it through from all angles and made my decision. Let’s see what you think.
Link to the past
We all studied history at school and if you’re like me it was fascinating. I especially like doing the local project on St James church in Sheffield. At the time I didn’t know I had family who were parishioners of the church and thus had baptisms and marriages at the church. If I had known this then, it would have been even more interesting for me. Also if you’re, for example, reading about the mills in Yorkshire it will mean more if your ancestors worked in mills. It will give you a true sense of what their lives entailed.
Shows patterns in family
Some families lived in one place and never moved, or they had the same occupation. If this is the case then it may surprise you if you work in a similar industry or live close to where they did. I found I had ancestors living close to where I grew up in the 1800’s. I had no living family living there when my family moved in as my maternal family weren’t from the city and my paternal family lived the other side of the city. This links in to above as another link to the past.
Shows interaction between families
They say the family that plays together, stays together. The same was true in the past. Most families lived on the same street as one another and even lived in the same houses even after they have married. Also it can show how families club together at times of hardship and to help improve lives of the children. My great grandfather was raised by his grandmother after his father died and his mother had to find work and his brother lived with a distant relative where he trained to be a dentist.
Shows hereditary aliments
We now know about hereditary illnesses and through looking through our ancestor’s lives and deaths we can find out how far back the condition goes. This could help with the conditions as they use the information to try and map out the illness throughout the family. It can not only show things such as sickle cell anaemia but also susceptibility to certain cancers or even mental health issues – it does run in families.
For anyone with an interest in history what better subject to learn about than your own family. Yes we can learn everything we want about say Cleopatra, but not many people even know their great grandparents names. Surely knowing who we are descended from is just as important and who knows what we made find out and what avenues our studies will take. Also we learn from the experiences of others, so why can’t we learn from the experiences of our ancestors? If they went through something bad and survived it we could use their experience if we’re in the same situation. I’m not saying we won’t handle it differently, but it could give use some pointers.
Find living relatives
Your family history research may lead you to finding living family members you never knew about. You may feel you want to contact them electronically or even in person. They may know things about your family members that you don’t and may be able to help fill in the gaps.
Let’s face it, anyone with a love of history will find their own ancestry even more interesting than generic history. I adore reading about the history of the monarchy and probably have read far too many books on the Tudors. This is great, but now I know more about my own family I can link it in with what I have read and in a sense put flesh on the bones of history.
So what decision have you made? I think that no matter what you feel about history you can make a case for saying that genealogy is important and I think learning about yourself and your past can help you understand yourself and help you in the future.