Random post on family history

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

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I have post topics aplenty of books I've recently read and loved, Renn Faire, larping, and more, but I'm running behind already this morning, not getting up until almost 9:00. I was up way too late last night ogling what may be my personal jackpot in family history on Ancestry.com. I found someone's family tree with loooooooots of entries on it that I am 99.9999% sure is part of my tree. In fact I think it's my oldest uncle as the home entry. I sent a message through Ancestry asking for verification, but even if I don't get a response soon, I'll likely see my uncle this Sunday at the family picnic. I was planning to bug everybody for info then anyway, even planning to visit my other grandparents on Monday for their information as best as they can remember.

Family history can be so much fun. You can learn strange and bizarre facts, connect with people you hadn't known or known well, and find information you can use as story fodder. Ancestry is a subscription site, but it is well worth it when doing research, especially when you are getting started and can't afford the travel time to go traipsing off to various courthouses and having to deal with kid(s) bored out of their minds.

Learning about people's lives is my favorite part of history. Or rather the only part of history I like. I always struggled with remembering names and dates. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that history became interesting. My teacher that year was amazing. She brought events to life with just her voice. Wonder if she ever considered storytelling, because she would have made a great bard, not that I ever heard her sing. She's also the one who sparked my interest in personal history, since she made a huge chunk of our final quarter grade dependent on a major family history project. We had the whole year to work on it. (My sophomore year history teacher did a smaller project on personal history but he didn't really care about the family part, only what was happening in America each year since we were born. Some neat stuff, but I didn't care about what prices were on houses or who was President. Just the family part.)

Even if you think history is boring, there is so much fascinating stuff if you know where to look. You may have been looking at it from the wrong angle. The anthropology and ethnology side of history is more interesting to me than the dry dates and plain facts. Here's the wiki article on anthropology with an overview of some of the related fields. You might find an aspect that appeals to you. History can be your one of your best writing resources, whether you are writing fantasy, science fiction, or any other genre. Have fun!


Emily White said...

History (especially ancient history) was always my favorite subject in school! You should see my bookshelf. A rather large portion of it is taken up by some type of history study text.

Brandi G. said...

I'm a history buff, too. Loved it. Always found it fascinating and enjoyable. I've been thinking about digging into my family tree lately, but I'm a little worried about what I will find. (Apparently I come from a stock of eccentrics...and not in the good way.)

Jennifer said...

Congratulations on the genealogy find! I LOVE genealogy. I really enjoy doing puzzles, and genealogy is the best puzzle ever. :)

Brandi - I have an aunt who is also into genealogy. She says that we are descended (on that side of the family) from a long line of liars and petty criminals. I think I love the stories about the disreputable family members even more than the stories about the upstanding ones!

Brad said...

I am a full-on, unapologetic history geek. I tend to favor colonial and revolutionary-era American history, but I'm also fascinated by the ancient world, the middle ages, pre-history, Civil War, World Wars I & II, etc...
I just love history.
What fascinates me the most is that whether you're talking about the twentieth century, the Dark Ages, or before recorded history, it's populated by people.
People who had hopes and dreams just like we do.
It puts history into a whole new perspective when you look at or try to imagine the stories behind those people, whether they're kings and queens or factory workers.
I don't know much family history. I've never had the time to dig into it too deeply. On my mother's side, we're able to go back to the early years of English colonization (Gramma always said she had proof we were descended from royalty there, but she never showed it to us and I take that with a big boulder of salt).
My dad's side of the family have always been notoriously bad record keepers. Although I know that side is Irish and Native American, I don't have any names or records I can go through.
I do have hundreds of photographs, however, dating back to the 1850's. The amazing thing about these photos of dad's side is that, even though they're not labeled and I have absolutely no idea who any of them are, I can see my family in them.
In a family photo from the mid-1870's, I see well-dressed gentlemen staring at the camera with MY eyes.
An older (1860's, I believe) photo has a child of about five who looks so much like Blake does now that it's spooky.
Okay; long story short (too late), I love history, and hope to find a way to learn more about mine.

Jaleh D said...

We have lots of supposed connections in our tree, like there's supposedly someone who fought with Mad Anthony Wayne (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Wayne). My dad used to always say we were related to Henryk Sienkiewicz because his grandmother had the same last name, which be cool because he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but if we are related it's less direct than what Dad used to claim from the bit of research I've done so far.

I just like that the term history can be broken down into his-story. It comes back to story and the people in them.

I'm most interested in Medieval and Renaissance period Europe, but I'm also intrigued by early settlers in America and Revolutionary War/Civil War era periods. The reanctment groups are so interesting, hence why I ended up hooking up with the SCA (that and some of our friends had joined.)

Jaleh D said...

Hmm I meant that Dad's grandmother was a Sienkiewicz, and that Henryk had won the Nobel Prize. Pronouns can be so annoying sometimes.

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