Why am I a genealogist?

Family1916

The family of Raffaele and Lucia Genetti,
circa 1916.

Many people find my hobby of family genealogy interesting – but exceedingly tedious when they learn how much research is required to accurately compile all of those names and dates. Often they ask “Why do you spend so much time digging into the past?”.

So here are a few musings as to why I am a family genealogist.

Whenever I pass by an abandoned home, usually sitting isolated and alone on an old farm or open prairie, I wonder who once lived there. What memories were created in this house with peeling wallpaper and shutters hanging askew? Why did they leave?

Or who are the long-gone people in period dress peering out from a sepia photograph that I found at the flea market? And who once cherished this memento, but now they are gone too.

Like the vacant home or the family portrait, people are also forgotten. It only takes three or four generations before an ancestor passes from living memory. And truly the only thing that is left after we pass is our memory. As a genealogist, I try to capture and preserve the memories of those who came before me. My charts and trees, names and dates are to honor the ancestors in an attempt to keep their memory alive. In some small way, I hope someone in the future will do the same for me. We all want to believe that our life counted for something, that it had purpose and enriched those we came in contact with. I believe every ancestor created a stepping-stone for the next generation. Their knowledge, courage and life choices made each of us who we are today. Shouldn’t we in the very least remember their names?

The pursuit of genealogy is an awe-inspiring calling and one that I don’t take lightly. The Genetti clan was very fortunate – many relatives throughout the centuries took up the task of recording our ancestry. I am just one in a long line of family historians preserving the memory of past ancestors by compiling a family tree generation by generation. For in remembering and sharing a family’s genealogy, you join the lives of the past with those living today and those to come in the future.

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