26064Re: [S-R] Lack of Interest in family history - YOU are now the historian!
- Apr 5, 2010Wow - well said, Bill! You nailed it for the rest of us "historians."
Ray Veth - Middletown, NJ
In a message dated 4/5/2010 9:02:57 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
I've reformulated this discussion because the title quite a bit off the
Re: [S-R] SURNAMES-WachtenheiRe: [S-R] Re: [S-R] SUR
and I'd like to draw attention to the hundreds of readers who may have
elected to ignore the thread.
What Helene says rings true, I'll add one more story. I stayed in my
villages of Zboj and Nova Sedlica for two weeks, spending the days and nights
meeting and speaking with dozens and dozens of family and "relatives" of one
sort or another.
What struck me at first, was that I seemed to know A LOT more about the
family than anyone I met.
After about a week, I politely asked one of the elders why they never
wrote these things down or knew much about their family history. The answer was
quite telling. "Because we are surrounded by our family and our history.
There is no need."
I left behind a small stack of paper including photographs which included
family trees, history, and copies of church books. Never since that time
did I receive any inquiry or comment on this material.
Only the photographs were of interest. "Yes, I can see we are related -
look at that face."
Coming back to the US, that kind of bothered me, but I assumed they were
too busy working to engage in such idle-time frivolity. Since that time,
I've slightly adjusted my perspective. It seems, that regardless what country
we live in, history of most sorts is disregarded. The essential question
seems to be, "How can this information help me live my life today?" And, for
the most part, it does not.
On both sides of the ocean, I slam into privacy concerns all the time. It
seems to fall into two camps. The first is that it's going to get into
sinister hands that will use the lineage information against them. The second
is that "He must want something. Why is this guy fishing around about me?
Does he want to take the family farm?"
Then comes the inevitable family gathering and some chit chat about family
history. It's polite, it's cursory, old stories are told, and it ends.
I wish I could be as optimistic as Debbie. I don't think anything is
changing. While access to records has become light speed, human interest in
family history remains in the dark ages.
YOU are the family historian, like it or not. There is always one person
in a generation of a family group who becomes the family historian. People
come to me occasionally for information, but usually only to obtain a "sound
byte" or a piece of trivia. Nobody asks, "what was life like?" "why did
they come?" "How did they work?"
I take my unofficial role as family historian quite seriously. My work may
be flawed, but it's all my family has. I've bundled up all sorts of
material and sent it to relatives I believe most likely to hang onto it. My hope
and wish is that my little "bundle" will inspire someone someday to pick up
the torch and carry it. No need for them to start from scratch - take it
to the next level. As each generation departs, we lose so much richness.
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