Senior Scene March 27,2017

Genealogy is a curiosity for most, a hobby for many, and an obsession for some.  In this article I am going to take a brief look at the practical and philosophical reasons that motivate people to spend time researching their ancestors.  Some people have very specific reasons for tracing their family tree, while others leap into family history research without giving it much thought.
Genealogy can certainly mean different things to different people. However, there are some common threads that all people share when looking towards their familial past. There are many practical reasons why people get involved with genealogy, and then there are the philosophical aspects of human curiosity and how it motivates people to research their family tree.
Here are some of the main practical triggers as to why people search for their ancestors:
• Validate Family Stories – To determine if family stories about their ancestors are true.
• To find out if they are related to someone famous.
• To gain a better understanding of an ancestor’s involvement in a famous historical event.
• Trace Medical Conditions –To assess the risk of getting certain medical conditions that tend to run in families.
• Trace a Family Inheritance –To determine genealogical proof of a family connection for potential heirs.
• To settle questions of land ownership by providing proof of descent.
• To see why someone bears a strong resemblance to an ancestor in an old family portrait.
• To determine the birth parents of an adopted child or alternatively, to find children given up for adoption.
• Proof of Paternity – To determine the biological father of a child.
• To document a community history by understanding the families that founded and influenced the community.
• To provide insight into history through the scholarly study of a famous family, such as a royal family.
• To provide proof of lineage to qualify for a heritage society.
• Preserve a Close Relative’s Legacy – To learn more about a parent, grandparent or sibling after their death.
• To preserve knowledge of ancestors who contributed to family traditions, such as a family recipe book.
• To allow families that have migrated to another country the opportunity to preserve some of the culture of their old country.
• Resolving Family Trees in Bibles – To understand the names and relationships written into an old family bible.
• Understand a Namesake – To learn more about the person you were named after.
• Settle Ownership of a Heirloom – To help resolve disputes over the origin of a family heirloom.
• To find and reconnect with living relatives.
• Family Legacy – To fulfill a desire to pass on a legacy to future generations.
This last practical reason for researching your family history is my basis for writing this column.  What a wonderful intergenerational project for a family to engage in!  To get you started,   the Belleville Public Library is offering FREE Genealogy 101 workshops again this spring.  You will explore the many ways the Library can assist genealogists in compiling their family history, as well as going over some helpful hints and tips. You will also tour the facilities including the local history collection and the afternoon will include some hands-on training using both Ancestry and the Belleville History Alive database.  Saturday, April 1st or Saturday, May 27th from 1:00 to 4:30pm.  There are a limited number of spaces available so pre-registration is required. To register, please call 613-968-6731 ext. 2237.  A valid Belleville Public Library card is required