ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Things Can We Learn From Our Ancestors

Updated on October 4, 2013

Today’s society moves at lightning speed. Technological advancements allow our children to grow up in a world where most events occur instantly. Take travel planning for example. Plans are made spur of the moment via text message. Travel routes are sorted out in seconds and include the best means of skirting all that nasty construction. Purchasing an airline ticket (or camping equipment, or just about anything you might need for your trip) at the lowest rate can be done from a cell phone. In other words, it is entirely possible to wake up one morning and be on the other side of the country by dinnertime the same day if that’s what you decide is on the day’s agenda.

Lets take a shorter trip. Imagine your brother and sister-in-law live in Paxton, Illinois about 60 miles east of you. They are expecting their first child and you’re very excited about becoming an aunt. You get a phone call at 6:00 PM on June 1, 2011. You quickly text your sister-in-law’s brother, Jake, and let him know you’re on your way to pick him up. A scant 10 minutes later the two of you are on the interstate, your GPS has warned you of a delay ahead and given you an alternate route to the hospital your brother mentioned. By 7:15 PM you are at the hospital, and your sister-in-law is just starting to have those nasty contractions that mean there’s about to be a new family member. At midnight you’re still impatiently waiting. At 2:00 AM you use your cellphone to call work and leave a message that you won’t be in the next day. You also take a moment to access your calendar and reschedule your appointments sending email updates to the individuals you were meeting. By 4:00 AM you are bored with the waiting, have dozed off several times, and wonder why the baby is taking so long. At 5:00 AM, your brother comes out to let you know it was a false alarm. It’s frustrating that you rushed all this way, rescheduled everything, now you have an hour drive home, and have to wait to do the whole thing over again! It seems this little one doesn’t yet understand how to navigate in this fast paced world.

In 1891, the automatic telephone exchange was patented. To clarify, the concept of this patent was to devise a mechanical means of connecting two telephones without the use of a human operator. “Automobiles” of the day were powered by steam and far beyond the financial means of most families. It would be more than a decade before the Wright Brothers make their first powered flight. Imagine what it must have been like to handle the travel planning for the above scenario at that time!

You receive a telegraph that you are an aunt. That’s right, the baby was born before you knew the mother was even in labor. Medical care wasn’t what it is today and the mother and child’s health were the first and foremost concern. Telephones were becoming popular, but important news was still sent by telegraph machine especially when the message was going any distance. You run (yes, literally run) down to your sister-in-law’s family homestead and proceed to make plans to go visit. This is a family event and most of the family from both sides will be going, and you most certainly won’t be traveling alone with Jake! There’s no passenger train near enough to get you there. So, your means of travel are a horse and buggy. It will be several days before you have all the provisions needed to travel 60 miles gathered, but between the two families you should be able to get everything prepared within a week. You need to take into consideration that your horse will be carrying quite a load and will need to stop every couple of hours to rest. It’s June, so if you leave early, you should make it about three-quarters of the way there before you have to stop for the night... I guess you can see the difference in travel over the past 120 years.

My Great-grandmother's birth record.
My Great-grandmother's birth record. | Source

You might wonder why I chose this particular year for comparison. My great-grandmother was born in 1891 near Paxton, Illinois. Her youngest sister, Mamie, was born in 1910 and survived well into my teenage years. She used to tell us how much things had changed over her lifetime. She worked for the telegraph company and taught my brothers Morse Code when we were children, even though we used one of our four telephones regularly. Later she was a typesetter for a newspaper. I remember her once telling me about the printing press and my comparison of it to a 1980s model copy machine. She laughed long and hard before explaining to me that if they could have printed the news that quickly it wouldn’t have been worth reading. I think I have a much better understanding of that comment now.

It’s been less than a quarter of a century since she passed away. As you would expect, some of the changes are for the better and others, well, maybe not so much. While technological advancements are not necessarily a bad thing, the instant gratification and impatient attitudes being cultivated by our instantaneous world might not be the best for society in general. If my Aunt Mamie were to see “<3 2 c u” in a text message she would be so confused! Do they still teach spelling in grade school today? What about grammar?

So, I ask you, how can we keep the best of today and revive the best of the past? What can we learn from our ancestors? For starters, maybe a little tolerance for a slower pace. There might have actually been something important you were missing all those times your grandmother told you to stop and smell the roses.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      5 years ago

      don't understand

    • Sherry Zimmerman profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Evans (Zimmerman) 

      8 years ago from Troy, Ohio

      Hi Glassvisage! I know exactly what you mean. I would love to find a way to balance the slower, less hectic pace of the past with the technology of today.

      My 17 year old daughter was one of the inspirations for this hub. I don't remember everything at that age being an emergency that must be handled right now and we rarely knew what was happening until it was over. Most of the time it seems that she and her friends have absolutely no ability to plan in advance. She recently started working and has to think before she reacts to a text or phone call and it's been a real adjustment for her.

      Another inspiration was hearing about a girl that was posting a blow by blow of her labor and delivery on Twitter... Having been there three times, I'm not sure if I should envy that gal's technical ability or feel sad that she felt the need to broadcast an experience to the world that should have been very special for her and her child.

    • glassvisage profile image


      8 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks for this thoughtful Hub. There are many times when I wish we could just go back in time when we didn't worry about global warming, nuclear war, and other problems. At the same time, I love the ability to instantly connect and communicate with people, and such things as showers, modern medicine, and other things really can enhance our lives.

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      8 years ago from new jersey



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)