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In Search of Remembrance


As I research my family ancestry, opening windows in my lineage to this time and this family life while preserving the time my ancestors lived from, I am aware of history and context leading me from genealogy to family lore, folk stories and perhaps the evidence of my ancestors’ choice of migration to their current homelands.
As I spent time with my nieces this holiday season, I measured how much has changed in our everyday lives from the home life my ancestors’ lived. Can anything beat the tablets and smartphones my nieces and nephews are so fond of? The reality of their own connections to family and others are at times elusive to me, as I watch them relate to the lives of countless characters in movies who seem more real in ways that our own ancestors do not. TV and the internet, in all its forms, has a dynamic advantage over paper and pen research.
What happens during the hours I read from screens of passenger lists, indices and countless census records, mapping the route my ancestors took out of Alsace Lorraine to this land – to farm, become entrepreneurs, leave this country for Brazil, then return here again? So many slivers of evidence give up the details of living conditions at the time of my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Birkey, on the family farm in Illinois. What were the tasks that had to be completed each season in order to thrive on a farm in 1885? I search to glean the choices my immigrant ancestors made in order to arrive in Woodford, Illinois and why.
For me, genealogy was a door I walked through to discover myself and my connections to others, and in 2017 ancestry research will continue to grow and have many kissing cousins. DNA and its databases of human genome will become ever more fine-tuned in the search for the evidence of our ancestors and our ancestry. Epigenetics will shine more light on what we consider inheritable with regard to trauma and human behavior. Family stories will enliven our research, and folkways and family lore will continue to be written down and shared. But will databases of records, and our access to records, continue to grow? Genealogy, DNA and the hunt for family has become big business and I hope big business makes wise decisions with regard to records, their retention and access and the continuation of the evidence of our ever-growing family trees.


Author: Laurene Cross
Laurene Cross is a genealogist and family historian who writes stories about your ancestry and cultural heritage. Owner of Find My Family Stories and 4Descendants – Lineage Research

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