WHY FAMILY HISTORY? WHY A FAMILY HISTORIAN?The other night, as I was telling my sister a story about a distant relative, and how excited I was to know this heretofore unknown story, she asked me when I first became interested in family history. The story is on my Kirkham/Wrigley Blog of how I started doing genealogy with my Grandmother Kirkham when I was eight years old.
She then asked why I thought I had such an unusual interest in Family History – knowing that there are many who do have that interest, and many who don’t.
I’ve though a lot about what she asked.
As a psychology major, I am interested in what makes a person what he is. My favorite model or theory is that we are one-third each of the following: Environment, Genetics, & Inherent Personality.
My environment is determined by my family. My childhood environment has a lot to do with how I see the world and respond to it. My parents and extended family created that environment. They in turn were influence by their parents and extended family, and we go back that way for hundreds of years. So part of me looks to Family History to find out who I am. . My adult environment continues to shape me, and is colored greatly by my family relationships.
Again, genetics creates at least a third of what I am. So I look to my parents, and go back in time, to see where I got the characteristics that made me what I am. Then I look at what my ancestors did with those characteristics they seemed to have, and it gives me clues of what I can accomplish, or how I can circumvent or cope with negative genetic downloads. Even my adopted children and grandchildren can look to the past and compare genetic similarities.
I see Inherent Personality coming from a life before this world – much of it existing forever (though I little understand this concept,) and some of it existing because of who my original Heavenly Parents were. Interesting. Again, family is behind what I am.
A study of family is a study of self, and a study of the extension of self.
I look at the pictures of those people I have known. I remember who they are, how they lived, and how they handled life. It teaches me. I look at the pictures of people who died before my memory. Again, I remember their stories and I am taught. And there are those who have no stories with their pictures. But deep inside I know their story. It isn’t much different than mine. They struggled and made mistakes and had successes. They persisted, and were resilient, and survived. And when there is no picture, their story, or the tales of their times form the picture in my mind. And again I learn.
My mother recently passed away. My father passed away 12 years ago. My grandparents are long gone. But to me, they sometimes walk side by side with me – through my memory of them. And little known to my grandchildren, they walk side by side with them – through me. Their influence goes on forever. I am influenced by myriads of generations past.
Why do I like doing Family History? I decided that genetically, environmentally, and inherently , the desire to know from whence I came, and how, has been deeply instilled in my heart and soul. I learn who I am as I learn who they were.