Saturday, January 22, 2022

Genealogy - One Reason Why

What could possibly be the draw of researching in old dusty books for names, dates, and places? Yawn! Boring! Right? I thought this when I was in high school and even in college, learning the history of the United States or the state where I was raised and went to college. I thought memorizing random dates, names, places was pointless. Who is going to remember these names, dates, locations anyways?

As you can see from the previous paragraph, I was young and very short-sighted. I started loving history when researching my family tree and learning about them. Many may say Genealogy is about names, dates, and places; this is true. However, for me, Genealogy is more than the basic facts of name, date, and location. Since beginning the journey of learning about my ancestors, I found that understanding what was going on in their lives (history) helps to put flesh on those bones. I have begun to understand them better. For example, I discovered one of my great, great, great grandmothers in the 1881 Census of the United Kingdom was 81 years old, a widow, and was living in a workhouse. I thought, what is a workhouse? I had no idea, so being inquisitive, I went to google and typed in workhouses. I started learning more about them, their purpose, etc...history. During the last year of her life, she was in a workhouse because she was poor, needed assistance, and passed away when she was eighty-one years old. I had deep compassion for this grandmother, living alone without the comforts of her children and grandchildren in the later part of life. 

I have learned to love history as I search census records, birth, marriage, death records as I continue my research. Researching census records can give you a glimpse into their occupation (some of which through research do not exist anymore), whether they owned or rented the residence, and where they lived, among other things. As I continue the genealogical research of my family tree, I love to learn more about their lives and have begun understanding history in a way that is more applicable to my life. Whether this is a function of being older and hopefully wiser is unclear. It may be a combination of both things. Their lives are similar to ours. The more we learn about the history of our ancestors' lives, the better we can understand ourselves and learn from the past. 

If you would like to read more about workhouses, click here and it will take you to my review of workhouses.

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