~ Discovering Your Family's Past To Shape Your Future ~
I dutifully learned all the names and dates and places that one should in social science and history classes, passed the AP tests, and promptly forgot it all. Why? Because it mattered in the strategic sense, but it was just a bunch of names.
Until I started genealogy research. Suddenly I realized that academics have somehow taken the most fascinating things on the planet – people and their antics – and sucked the life out of them, leaving virtually nothing the average person would remember for longer than it takes to pass a test. But here’s the thing – there were REAL PEOPLE making that history! In fact, they are YOUR people and MY people! Why don’t we hear about the things that help us think of them as real people, with attitudes, foibles, and personality? I bet a lot of people would recall more history (and perhaps not be doomed to repeat it?) if we changed the approach. (I know some good history teachers who do try to bring history to life.)
That is why I love genealogy – finding people’s ancestors, and going beyond the name and date and place. The historic events they shaped or played a role in, the social issues of the day, how they lived, and what their neighborhood was like, even their occupation…all these made our ancestors who they were. Knowing these things about them help us (their descendants) feel like they really are part of the family.
examples above are from the following books, in order: The Bulletproof George Washington by David Barton, Frightful First World War by Terry Deary, Legends, Lies and Cherished Myths of American History by Richard Shenkman, Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody by Charles Panati, and Cruel Kings and Mean Queens by Terry Deary