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26065Re: [S-R] Lack of Interest in family history - YOU are now the historian!

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  • MaryLou V. Crouch
    Apr 5, 2010
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      Bill,
      I haven't been on the forum much lately--focused on another family line
      at the moment--but what you wrote really reflects my own experiences.

      Family members are glad that I'm doing this work but when I ask for
      contributions--any old documents, photos, stories, anything-- I get
      nothing from them until someone dies and the household is being cleaned
      out--then my requests are sometimes remembered and I am allowed to take
      stuff that would be thrown out. I have found historical treasures this
      way--beautifully decorated Baptismal documents that had been rolled up
      and stored in an attic for ages, for example.

      It is disheartening but I continue to work on the family history so
      future generations will have something to build on. We are products of
      that history not only physically but also emotionally, spiritually, and
      intellectually.

      I happened to see part of a PBS show with Dr. Dwyer (sp?) yesterday--he
      was discussing "memes" which translated to cultural habits of mind, to
      beliefs carried from one generation to the next, and to mannerisms or
      habits within a family. One example he used: how the depression of the
      1930s shaped his mother's life and perspective and her habits of saving,
      reusing, being thrifty carried over to him as a part of who he is.

      Part of our family history shows us what "memes" we carry within us--why
      we think and act the ways we do. In many ways, I am glad the show "Who
      Do You Think You Are?" is having great success. While very light on the
      hardscrabble work of genealogy, the show does emphasize the impact of
      family history on the individual and invites the audience members to
      begin their own treasure hunt into the past.

      Marylou


      On 4/5/2010 9:00 AM, billski wrote:
      > I've reformulated this discussion because the title quite a bit off the original topic
      > Re: [S-R] SURNAMES-Wachtenheim-Szolyva/Svaliava
      > 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.
      >
      > Bill
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