Disclaimer: This is not a judgment on those who pursue this as a hobby. (Also, this strikes me as a “white” pastime… I never said I was politically correct.)
While I was sitting and visiting some friends last evening, a couple of them side tracked into their own conversation about the search for one’s ancestry. While the more practiced woman gave the young lady a series of websites and directions in which to search, I was struck by one thing that the older woman said. Something akin to regret that she had not asked her father some of these questions about his family.
This strikes me on two levels. The first is that this seems to have become a national pastime, to investigate our heritage. “Where are your families from?” “Do you have any Native American in you?” “Are you Irish, German, Scottish, English, Dutch, or Gypsy?” We all know that somewhere in our past is a really cool tidbit of family history.
The other thing that strikes me is that this is all information that as a people, we used to know. Well… those who truly had status because of their lineage, it was of vital importance to them. But, now we have gaps in our information, because for a time we ceased to care and be interested in going to listen to the stories of our elders.
Now we have realized what it means that we do not have this information. We have missed out. We are now forced to search online for information about our families. And everything seems to be suspect. How can you be certain that what you have learned is true? Courthouse records can only get you so far.