When people start searching for information about their ancestors, they often begin by looking for vital records and filling in their family tree. Not all genealogists take the time to also become family historians. There are many reasons why knowing your family history is important.
Family History Provides Connections
Your family tree can show you exactly how you are related to all of your ancestors. Your family history helps to provide meaningful connections to your ancestors. Old photos, letters, and journals give you a glimpse into what your ancestors were really like. Stories handed down from one generation to the next about something an ancestor did can be inspiring. Family history is what makes a name and series of dates on a page into a living, breathing, person.
Family History Reminds You Where You Came From
Did you grow up speaking more than one language? Those languages were handed down by your relatives who speak it. Their parents, or grandparents, taught it to them. The foods you eat at family gatherings, or during holidays, are another reminder of where your family came from. You may have learned how to make grandma’s pasta sauce, or schnitzel, or spring rolls.
Family History is Good For Your Children
Kids love to stories about how their parents met, what their parents were like when they were children, and the day-to-day life of their grandparents. These kinds of old family stories, handed down from one generation to the next, provides a sense of grounding. In order to know who you are, and where you fit into the world, you need to know where you came from.
Family History Informs Your Health Choices
No one enjoys talking about the diseases or conditions that caused the death of their relatives and ancestors. It is important to do it, though.
Families that know that heart disease runs in their family can seek advice from doctors about how to avoid it. Families that have a genetically heritable disease in their genes can encourage younger generations to get tested for it. Stories about how relatives coped with a particular disease or condition can provide hope to those who have it, too.
Family History Encourages Compassion
Children who know that their ancestors were immigrants may feel compassion towards their classmates who are recent immigrants. Kids who know which countries their ancestors came from may feel for the people who live in that country today and who are in dire situations. Knowing your family history can help you find common ground with people who aren’t part of your family tree.
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