October is Family History Month. This celebration was created to celebrate the practice of researching our ancestors or genealogy. This pursuit requires hours of research and study of historical records to learn a little more about where you come from. It sounds a bit boring and hard. Why do people do it?
Studying your family tree is a great way to connect to your roots. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” Most of us owe a lot of who we are to the people who came before us. Our genetics, where we were born, our culture, all come from our ancestors. No matter how you try to change your life, you will always come from somewhere. Learning to understand and appreciate the sacrifices of your ancestors is an essential step in discovering who you are.
In 2004, a widely popular BBC program called Who Do You Think You Are? premiered. Ten international versions have since been aired. The focus of the program is to show celebrities their family history and help them learn where their family history. Fascinating stories and facts about history are shared and it has inspired people to learn more about their history. Many of the guests find common ground with their ancestors and learn strength from their ancestors’ persistence and endurance.
One celebrity guest on Who You Think You Are? was Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. One of the discoveries she made was that she came from a long line of single mothers. Rowling, who was once a single mother herself, has said of that time that she is “prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life.” Her ancestral discovery gave her strength and admiration for the women who came before her and helped her recognize a power within herself, one that may have been passed down. Now she uses her influence to campaign for the rights of single parents.
You don’t have to be a celebrity to start learning your family history. It may be challenging to begin the research process at first, but stick with it. You may learn something that fascinates, challenges or inspires you. Family is everything, and even our ancestors can teach us a little more about who we are, and how we can endure. Consider starting to research your family tree today.