Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ancestor Worship

Why are we so fascinated by the lives our forebears lived? What makes us want to unravel the mysteries surrounding their decision to up and leave the countries of their birth for the unknown of the New World? Are we still so insecure about our identity that we need to relate ourselves to our parents, grandparents or great grandparents places of origin? Or do we simply need to dig about in the past to find something salacious, secret or scandalous in our family tree which will set us apart from the rest of humanity? Or perhaps it's just plain curiosity, or the need to fill in the gaps between family legend and the real story.

Whatever the reason, genealogy has become an obsession for many. There are societies in every town made up of dedicated family historians who, when they are not delving into their own ancestry, are providing advice to newcomers about to embark on their search into the past. Until recently this required considerable patience and stamina. Endless hours had to be endured reading microfiche records and microfilm copies of newspapers in state and regional libraries for the chance of finding mention of ancient relatives. To trace them back to their country of origin was even more difficult. if overseas travel was out of the question, the researcher had to rely on inconsistent lines of communication by mail.

Not anymore. So much is on the internet. Births, deaths, marriages, shipping records and so much more! Genealogical centres are contactable by email although it still falls to volunteers to field requests and provide answers. Websites and blogs abound as I found out when I went looking for sites on which I could advertise my own efforts to tell the story of why my mother's family came to Victoria during the middle of the 19th century. Anyone who is interested in the Irish Famine Orphans, the impact of the Young Ireland uprising and the devastation heaped on places like County Clare will no doubt relate to the story which runs though my Famine novel Brigid.

where to get Brigid

4 comments:

  1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"
    http://www.examiner.com/x-53135-Springfield-Genealogy-Examiner
    http://www.examiner.com/x-58285-Ozarks-Cultural-Heritage-Examiner

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  2. Thanks for you comments Bill. Whenever my mother tells me something from her past she always add, "Now don't put that in one of your books." Of course I always do.

    Jill

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  3. You are a reader...you should know. Everyone loves a good mystery :-)
    It is the problem solving and the hunt that the Genealogists love.
    Regards,
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

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  4. I agree with you. Research is always the exciting part of any project whether it is family history, historical fiction or straight out history. It's what keeps me going

    Jill

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