Sunday, October 28, 2007


Who Am I?
I'm sure we've all wondered at one time or another who we are and where we came from. In the old days genealogists, such as they were, generally fell into one of three groups - Darwinians who insisted we must have evolved from apes (Remember "The Naked Ape?"), White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, who all seemed to be related to royalty and came over on the Mayflower (no matter how hard the family tree was shaken, no nuts, scoundrels or horse thieves seemed to fall out), or Mormons, formally known as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints whose beliefs allowed for post-mortem baptism of relatives and others.
Alex Hailey's "Roots" seemed to have blazed the trail, allowing not only WASPS but decendents of those of humble beginnings who came to America voluntarily or involuntarily, and whose anscestors did not speak nor keep records in English. Research of families became easier with the advent of internet resources. Soon the need to know that had been a groundswell turned into a torrent. Adoptees, children of blended families and those whose ancestors lived in tiny villages were able to trace their family history with equal ease. The phenomenon spread worldwide, especially in countries that had been settled or "invaded" by European immigrants. Birth records, ship manifests, and other family history records have become available to anybody willing to spend a little time and a little money.
While the LDS (Mormon) church has far and away developed the most thorough collection of documents anywhere in the world, resources from ethnic bulletin boards address specific questions to those seeking ancestors who might be of Croatian, African, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Hungarian, or any other conceivable ethnicity. I once posted the family name of my Grandmother on a bulletin board. She had immigrated to America alone at age 14, kept no family records and spoke little English. Some eighteen months after the original post I received an email from a person with the same last name as the one I sought. He lived in the Czech Republic and turned out to not only be a distant cousin, but was also interested in genealogy and was able to send me 200 years worth of family history that I'd not had. His grandfather (a first cousin to my grandmother) was a historian and prolific writer of family history. The experience was an exhilarating one.
Recently news reports told of Vice President Dick Cheney's wife's research yielding the surprise that he was related to presidential candidate Barak Obama. Walt Disney had it right when he included the Disneyland ride - it is a Small World after all.
Dr. Forgot

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