Why the new surge in Genealogy?
Where did we come from and how did we get here?
What is the definition of ‘family’ in our society today? Certainly, in our world not only do family members stay close to the family elders, in fact in many cases they live within the same home. Those of us living in the United States find it is not only accepted that our family is living hundreds or thousand of miles apart, but we encourage many in the unit to move away from each other as children become adults. We have developed a complete lifestyle that builds and then thrives in smaller groups of people. We can say ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child, take care of middle aged adult children or family elders, but in our life of financial and health reasons, living far away, can be considered a norm.
This brings up the issue of loss. What do we lose when family members scatter in the winds? And especially to those millions that spend years and countless dollars looking to put genealogical family together. And to what expense do we live around the world from each other. Today, individuals feel something is missing if they don’t know where their ancestors came from; there are even educational scholarships for those who can tie their roots to the Mayflower and the colonizing of America.
Now that we know there are some tangible reasons for tracing our roots, how do so many people seem to get the ‘bug’ in later life? There appears to be several reasons; financially we have reached a point in our life that is more comfortable to use some of our savings. There has always been a tug at our heartstrings regarding a situation within the family not understood. There is a family connection to a disease but where, and of course the old question of how did this particular person end up in my family.
Many times the family genealogist will make copies and past the information down to others with like interest. And for those thinking of a second career, this is the one. While many dollars are invested in our education and work, the gift back is priceless. Genealogy is big business; from the Entertainment Arts to medical breakthroughs to family history, for every person out there looking for answers. There is a genealogist’s waiting to help us. There are several institutions of higher learning offering degrees in Genealogy.
Above are some of the reasons and answers to ‘why’, ‘who’ and ‘where’; most of the time it is an inquisitive mind and a story learned many, many years ago, which is the catalyst. How does this help with young people of today? Many of the young people today are looking for something. They don’t even know how to put it into words, they simply feel they are flailing in space and can’t seem to find their ground. The mentally ill frequently feel so totally alone. They are unsure why and we cannot seem to answer questions that are phrased in the form of a question. For many this is a lifeline to a family and is a search never broached before. It provides a question they want to answer for themselves. And when they cannot do the research themselves, we can help kick start the process by helping them get started.
The more pragmatic of our generation are looking for ways to bring a mutual site into view for all of our family as to where our ancestors were laid to rest. Our fathers and their fathers frequently were able to trace family to one or more places. We of course cannot, due to the Industrial Revolution, even with the Informational Age. As we began to recover from the Great Depression and WWll, farmers became factory workers, women went to work outside the home and children left school to help make ends meet. Many times children were encouraged to move west so they could afford their life. Now we are in the Space Age and the Informational Age, looking up historical information is as close as our computer or laptop. Many of us have found the beginnings of the search in The Family Bible. And many of us don’t have a clue how we managed to get were we are. Medically speaking this research will tell us why our family members seem targeted for a specific disease. (Volga Valley (Russia) residents moved in mass to the Midwest. And those with Alzheimer’s disease are frequently traced to this time and place.
The rest of our life (no matter our age right now) will depend on our background. Perhaps not medically (although it has been proven many times to be so), certainly intellectually and family traits; an example is, smoking although an individual may never have smoked they still have a good chance of health related problem, found associated with smoking, due to being exposed to this carcinogen during the years of body development. The same is true of Asbestosis, if Mom or Dad worked in the construction industry or automotive industry this may provide some information why their children have developed a disease that is kin to the use of Asbestos.
Why is all this important, we now have a new generation that is flying in on our coat tails. We are seeing young people physically neglected and therefore muscles are not used. Carpel Tunnel is having a rise in many young people that have absolutely no connection to Jackhammers, and carpentry; rather it is related to keyboards and electronics. We are seeing (literally) more diseases of our eyes, due to spending so much time looking at computer screens and gaming on TV. Computers have become our generation of military’s – smoking. (In WWll and before, our troops were literally given cigarettes all they wanted; today it is computers in every area of our military from firing rockets too what to stock in the commissary).
This brings us to our Ancestors, why is looking for them so important, beside the common social interests. We spend multiple hours a day on a computer, we look for our mates and our friends online, we search for everything from our next house to our dog or cat on computers, we order groceries online; however our interaction with other humans is very limited. Going back through generations of our families will hopefully spark a flicker of interest in local customers that in turn will see us out talking to people. It is imperative that people see and meet people everyday. This is why it is so wonderful to see people socializing in large and small groups.