I’ve been researching my family history for fifteen plus years now and the other day I was thinking about a family tree. What is a family tree? Why did a family tree start getting called a family tree? Why is it important to know your family tree?
What Is Genealogy?
Genealogy is the combination of utilizing interviews, records, genetic analysis, and other data in order to gather information about a family unit and show the lineage of its members. Now that sounds very technical, but in reality it isn’t really all that complicated. Genealogy is, quite simply, the study of one’s family lineage by utilizing historical documents and other means.
To me, genealogy is the study of a family. How the family started. How the family evolved and also where the family is headed. Genealogy is about knowing your roots.
Why Do People Get Into Genealogy?
Everyone has a reason for what they do. There are varying reasons for why someone gets into genealogy and researches their family history, but the main reason I feel most people get into it, is to preserve their family heritage to pass down to future generations. We all want to carve our piece of history out and preserve it for those that come after us. That’s why people make time capsules, right?
I started out in my genealogy search about fifteen years ago when my dad started questioning some things about his family. I started researching as a means to get him some answers for things he wanted to know. It didn’t really occur to me that I would get so into it.
The death of my father left me feeling misplaced in the world and, with genealogy, I have found that place again. By researching my family history, I feel connected to the members of my family tree and, more specifically, my dad. I think that many family history researchers probably feel the same way. But to add to it, putting together their family tree helps them to preserve that history for many generations to come.
What Is A Family Tree?
Now you have an idea of what genealogy is and why people get into it, so what is a family tree? Why do we call a family tree, a family tree?
Just the other day I was getting ready for work and I started contemplating that very question. Why is it called a family tree? My thought is that a family tree was called a family tree because each family unit within a family looks like the branch of a tree so I looked up the definition of family tree and found, according to Mirriam-Webster, a family tree is a genealogical diagram. But I would venture to say it is more in depth than that.
A tree is a living, breathing organism that grows in the sunlight with nourishment. A family does the same thing. Give a family nourishment and light, and family will prosper. Take away those things and the family unit dies out, just like a tree dies out without proper sunlight and nourishment.
Over time branches of a tree die out and fall off and all the while new growth is happening to the tree. The tree is getting more roots and more buds which become new branches and leaves. A family does the same thing. Family members die and family members are born. The new buds on a tree represent the new members each family brings.
A family tree is an easier way to view a family as a diagram, but it is so much more. It is the past, present and future. It is the story of a family and genealogists are putting the pieces of their family puzzles together, one piece at a time so that their family story can be told accurately. Professional genealogists also help others to track their lineage and to put their family stories together.
The Importance Of Knowing Your Family Tree
When someone goes to a doctor, the doctor or staff member at the clinic will ask about family history in regard to medical conditions. Why do they do that? Well, they do it because many conditions are hereditary and knowing family history helps medical personnel to choose a course of action.
Let’s say someone has a family history of cancer in the immediate family. This makes the patient at a much higher risk of developing cancer so at the slightest sign of something like a lump, the medical staff will order tests for cancer.
Well, the same holds true for family history research. Knowing your family history can help with medical problems. It can help heal families. Many families have lost members through the years due to divorce, adoption, or just loosing track of each other. Researching your family can lead you to finding those that have been lost and reconnecting. Family history research can provide you with a sense of belonging and a sense of peace. It can give you that piece of the world that you can leave as a legacy for future generations.
Paying Homage To Your Ancestors
Regardless of the reasons you research your family history, the truth is a family is a living, breathing entity. Families deserve respect and researching your family history is a great way to pay homage to your ancestors. It is a way to show respect to those who have traveled before you and leave that legacy for future generations to build upon.
The family tree is a picture description of the family. It is a visual representation of the love shared within a family and it is breathtaking to see the family tree filled out. It still amazes me what two people can accomplish. Just two people can start a huge family tree and a long-lasting legacy.
I hope you have enjoyed my post and would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. What is a family tree to you? Please leave your comments and/or questions below.