Genealogy, or family history as it is commonly called today, has long been intriguing people around the world. For most of human history, this was done through oral tradition.
If you’ve ever read the Bible you’ve read many genealogy accounts, such as in the fifth chapter of Genesis, which is where the Hebrews’ descent from Adam is given. For many centuries the Biblical traditions were kept orally. In modern history, when man started keeping written records, genealogy changed from oral tradition to records. Many pursued their heritage not as a hobby but as a way to prove their lineage to royalty or important historical figures, sometimes for monetary reasons.
In the 1970's, when everyone was watching and reading Alex Haley’s Roots, opinions changed about genealogy. What was once reserved for little blue-haired ladies who wanted to join patriotic societies is now the third most popular hobby in the United States.
Genealogy is no longer the collection of names and dates, but rather a history of people. I think of my family as a story. Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. My story starts with the middle, with myself and my husband. By coming together, we joined our families. We are the middle and everyone before and after us is connected through us. I see our ancestors as the beginning. They set down the foundation of the story that would later be us. And, I look ahead to our descendants as the ending. But the story doesn’t really end. It continues, like an open book where chapters are added with each birth. I reflect upon this even more since Jakob, my first grandchild was born last year. He’ll continue to add more chapters to the story that is our family.
Where did I come from? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Most people know who their parents were and maybe even the names of their grandparents. Do you know the names of your grandparents’ parents or where and how they lived? Some people say, “What difference does that make? I didn’t even know them. They have nothing to do with me.” Your ancestors had a big part in making you who you are today. The lives they lived and the decisions they made many years ago had a direct impact on who you became. They are your history. Our lives are made up of the past, the present, and the future. We can’t know what the future will bring or even what the present has in store for us. However, the past is something we can learn about. Do you know about your past....or is it a mystery?
The majority of us came from ordinary people. They were the soldiers, the factory workers, and the farmers. Most were not famous and you won’t find their names in the history books. But they are in those history books. They are the soldiers who fought for General Patton, they are the men who built the railroads, they are the men and women who grew the food to feed the world. Many people don’t think their ancestors did anything exciting and so there will be nothing of interest to find.
Whatever your family story is, it’s also the history of man. It’s information that you, your children, and your grandchildren won’t learn in school. You’ll be fascinated to discover how your ancestors fit into historical events. It will bring history alive and make those events more than just boring facts.
One of the really fun things about a hobby is finding others with the same interests. In May of 2000, some people started getting together to share their interest in genealogy. The group, Broomfield Genealogical Society, meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 7 P.M at the Broomfield Senior Center, 280 Lamar. Members and guests gather and share information and usually have a speaker to talk about a genealogy related subject. The next meeting will be June 19 and will feature Erik Conard. His topic will be "Using The Old Census Records, 1800 to 1840, in doing Genealogical Research." Eric has 35 years experience in the genealogical field and is a volunteer at the National Archives and the Family History Center. The meeting is free and open to the public.