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Archiver > TMG > 2004-03 > 1079028926

From: Darrell Martin <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] OT - Why Do Genealogy
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 12:15:31 -0600 (GMT-06:00)


I am a genealogist, and a family historian, for many reasons. Some of them relate to the satisfaction that comes from a complex problem solved by good detective work, and some have to do with just plain curiosity. And I cannot ignore that while I was growing up, it was something that my family "did" (genealogy, written family history, annual reunions, and old stories repeated often).

There are other more fundamental reasons why I find genealogy worthwhile. I am a big fan of the family: father, mother, child. Genealogy is one way of affirming the value I put on the family, even when it does not measure up fully to its potential. I find that genealogy is also a way of demonstrating how interconnected we all are, not only with those around us or on other continents, but also with those who lived many years ago. I owe a debt to those who came before me, not only for what I am but for what I have; not only to be grateful, but to pass the stories and thus my gratitude on to following generations.

And that is still not all. My parentage and upbringing is so much more than heredity, as important as my genes are. My extended family provided me with physical descent -- and then some. I also received from them their values, their traditions, their beliefs, and their faith. Yes, I have made my own choices in all of those things, but if I ignore what my ancestors found most important for current fads, I do so at the risk of my peace of mind. If I accept what they found intolerable because today's pundits say I should, I do so at the risk of my integrity. And if I don't even *know* anything about all those people that fit so neatly on my pedigree chart, and so don't concern myself with their convictions, their joys, and their struggles, then I risk losing even my own self. I may as well be a hot air balloon in a hurricane.

Genealogy is not the *only* way to do much of anything. But it is *a* way to do a lot. It is a large part of *my* way.


Darrell A. Martin
a native Vermonter in exile in Illinois

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