One can speculate about the interest shown in genealogy. From nosiness to hobby to serious specialty, the focus on one’s ancestors and their particulars has become a multi-billion dollar business. While for some, ancestral research is a lucrative pursuit, for others it might be entertaining, considering the many genealogical documentaries aired in many languages across the world. Still others see in the research of one’s roots a form of self-assurance and may feel a kinship with like-minded people when communicating via forums. Especially in these times of greater flexibility and mobility as well as the awareness of the rapid passing of time, many wonder about their origins and values.
Our values come to us through our families. What our forefathers have created has an immediate impact on our existence. Without our ancestors we would not be where we are now; as a matter of fact, we would not be here!
This brings us to another point! Going back some centuries, say going back 7 generations, each one of us would come up with 65,536 ancestors. Going back 17 generations would amount to 67, 108 864 people in our family tree. According to how many people actually lived in Europe, this addition already would surpass the population of late medieval times. The fact is, we share ancestors. Somehow, we are all related!
Considering another fact, namely that most people from the 1500 to 1850s lived in rural areas and had restricted mobility, it would be interesting to find them in their habitat and ascertain not only dates and places but also living conditions, characteristics, features and traits which could give clues to historical, social, medical and genetic research. By coming to know our ancestors, we come to know ourselves.
Why not try your hand at genealogical research?
Photo courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.