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(+) Are You a Family Historian or a Name Collector?

15 Sep 2023 5:51 PM | Anonymous

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I have a question. None of my living relatives knows the answer to this question. I have not found the answer to this question in any public records, nor have I been able to find the answer in cemeteries. I have read a few magazine articles and Internet pages about the topic, but none of them have directly answered the question.

The question is…  “Why do we study genealogy?”

What makes anyone so curious about his or her family tree? What drives us to dedicate time, effort, and sometimes expenses to go find dead people?

What is it inside of us that makes us spend hours and hours cranking reels of microfilm, then we go home and report to our family members what a great day we had? 

I must admit that I have asked that question of many people and have received several answers. Some people report that it is simple curiosity… and I tend to believe that is a part of the answer. Others report that it is part of an intriguing puzzle that they wish to solve.

The theory on the puzzle bothers me. First of all, I am devoted to genealogy, but I could care less about other puzzles. I don’t do the daily crosswords in the newspaper, I don’t put together those picture puzzles, and I do not seem very interested in any other form of puzzles. If genealogy is solely a puzzle, why would I be attracted to it and yet not to other puzzles? That doesn’t make sense to me. In short, I think there is more to genealogy than there is to a crossword puzzle.

The simplest and most direct answer for many people is because it is a religious requirement. Indeed, members of the LDS Church are encouraged to find information about their ancestry for religious purposes. And yet, of all the LDS members that I meet at most genealogy conferences, most met their religious requirements years ago but continue to look further and further back. In fact, many of them become so addicted that they help others do the same.

Yes, I can accept that religion is a major motivator, but I believe there is still more. I constantly meet people, LDS members and non-members alike, who keep searching and searching, further and further back. Why?

I do not have all the answers, but I do have an observation or two. I believe that most all humans have a natural curiosity. We are curious about many things, but for now, I will focus on our curiosity about our origins and ourselves.

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