Calexis

It seems like everyone is doing genealogy these days.

There are television shows and lots of on-line resources that make the exercise easier, with more historic records and information accessible to the average person.

The question is really, Why?

Why are people interested in tracing and finding out about their antecedents?

Genealogy is in many ways the democratization of history.  It makes history not only personal, but you are actually linked to it yourself.

Past events are no longer the exclusive territory of historic figures.

Sure, George III was the King of England, but back then my ancestor David Conyers Burton, Rector of Broughton in Yorkshire, was alive and well.  And I can learn a lot about David from sources now available.

I found out that my real problem is that David Conyers Burton squandered the family fortunes leaving my great great grandfather a working man instead of a gentleman landowner.  So it goes.  I can blame him and he can’t even sue me.

Knowing this connects me to history and makes it all the more real.

It makes me want to visit Yorkshire and see what it was like.  It also allows me to find and reconnect with lost members of my family – compare DNA and all that.  Plus, I can choose which branches of my family I want to identify with.

Nice but…  is that enough motivation for the many people tracing their ancestors.

These days living families are scattered to the winds.  I ended up about 3,000 miles from my hometown. I know lots of people who are even further away from their hometowns.  And I am at least in the same country.

The villages and small groups humans evolved in are gone.

We spent at least 150,000 years as Homo Sapiens evolving and living in small groups.  We crave that small group, even tribal, familiarity and support.

So one way to find your tribe is to do it through genealogy.

We create other tribes for ourselves through identifying with other groups: ethnic, religious, industry, interests, hobbies, music taste, fashion styles, facebook friends and more, as well as family.

What is facebook, anyway, but defining your own tribal members.

The beauty of genealogy is that it is a tribe of mostly dead people.   You can’t help but get along with them and they never talk back.

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