My A to Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.
Y is for Yearning
As we move forward with our research, we long for the small or large discoveries that will break down a brick wall, or take our research further.
However, one yearning will never diminish, as we’re inevitably limited in truly getting to know our ancestors as people. We don’t know how our families felt about life in general and their own specific experiences. We don’t know whether they regretted the sacrifices they made when they emigrated. Or how they felt when they heard, months later, that their family members had died “at home”…or even if they had that news, or had to assume.
I don’t know how my German ancestor, George Kunkel, felt about the tirades delivered in purple prose about the dreaded Hun, as he lived out his final years in the fist half of World War I. Or how he felt as grandchildren went to war against his original homeland? Did this contribute to his death and the elderly grumpiness one of his grandchildren remembers?
We are left to explore as many records as possible and reach a conclusion about how they coped with life. Our emotions yo-yo as we find new discoveries or reach a blank. Inevitably our conclusions about our ancestors’ characters are bound to be biased, optimistic, or just plain incorrect. It’s hard to say why we care so much but they are no longer simply names on a genealogical tree.
Only those lucky researchers whose ancestors wrote down their thoughts in diaries or letters will have any means of moderating this yearning. Sadly, this will be few of us. Oral histories also give us glimpses of the personalities behind the names and I’ve been fortunate to have some of these to help moderate my yearning.
Over my blogging years I’ve written a couple of stories which express my yearning and how I would love to spend time with my ancestors. You might be interested in reading them:
The flip-side of our yearning to know our ancestors, is the need for us to leave something behind for our own descendants so they have a chance to know who we were and what we thought. Modern technology offers so many opportunities and ways to do this, including video-clips and/or voice recordings.
Let us make future generations remember us as proud ancestors just as, today, we remember our forefathers. Roh Moo-hyun
Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>
There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 200-299.