Discovering Your Ancestors to Get Away From Stress
Until the fall of 2012, when I was told about genealogy, I always had this image in mind: a retiree abandoning his hoe and tomato plantations for old and dusty civil status records, which he was going to consult all over the US, according to the geographical origins of his ancestors. At best, he would consult microfilms and join an association, allowing him to exchange information he found on his region with strangers, while others would undertake for him to do research in other countries.
But that was before. Until quite by chance, I discovered that today, we can study genealogy comfortably, without leaving home, thanks to the internet.
I have always thought (even in the days when in my head, genealogists were still living at the time of the dinosaurs) that we can build and walk in life only if we know where we come from. I have the annoying habit of packing into boxes what comes from my ancestors: the watch of one, the thimble of the other, the passport of a third who migrated to Britain sixty years ago... But my knowledge of family history ended in the 1920s, at best.
As both of my parents were late-born (as I was), my grandparents' memory quickly failed when I reached the age when the subject was beginning to interest me. At 15, when they would have been very willing to tell me the stories of my ancestors, you can easily imagine that I had other subjects of concern.
I lost my four grandparents in recent years, when they all reached a very respectable age (97 years for the last one). But let's just say that their concern, in the last days, was rather to know if there was still good strawberry pie at the retirement home!
Finally, I knew little about my ancestry and family tree.
One day, to render a service to a family member, who is forever angry with anything looks like a computer; I looked at the archives website of my birth department. And I came across the tab "online archives".
A few clicks later, I discovered that my department had digitized all of its registers of civil status until 1902. And it allowed for free access online, with a powerful interface, and above all, very intuitive. I had the curiosity to go and look for the birth certificate of my great-grandfather (the one who gave me his last name).
Reliving my genealogy over two centuries has allowed me to see that I am only a link in a family history. Well before me, my ancestors lived, loved each other, faced wars, famines, experienced pain, lost young children (relatively common at the time), and died. And well after me, others will continue history, whatever the environment or economic circumstances.
Imagining the living conditions of those who have preceded us puts into perspective many of the worries of our modern life. I also had a lot of fun discovering, for example, that my son has the same name with his great-great-great grandfather. Personally, I bear the name and surname of an ancestor, which everyone did not know in the family. For me, it's a real relay, even if I do not know anything about the character, personality and life of these people.
Would you also like to trace your ancestors or have you already done a genealogical research? What did it bring you? Do you feel more serene, like me? Tell me!