Genealogy Overview

Genealogy Overview

Genealogists search written records, collect oral histories and preserve family stories to discover ancestors and living relatives. Genealogists also attempt to understand not just where and when people lived but also their lifestyle, biography, and motivations. This often requires — or leads to — knowledge of antique law, old political boundaries, immigration trends, and historical social conditions.

Genealogists and family historians often join a Family History Society where novices can learn from more experienced researchers, and everyone benefits from shared knowledge.

Even an unsuccessful search for ancestors leads to a better understanding of history. The search for living relatives often leads to DNA testing, family reunions, both of distant cousins and of disrupted families. Genealogists sometimes help reunite families separated by immigration, foster homes and adoption. The genealogist can help keep family traditions alive or reveal family secrets.

In its original form, genealogy was mainly concerned with the ancestry of rulers and nobles, often arguing or demonstrating the legitimacy of claims to wealth and power. The term often overlapped with heraldry, in which the ancestry of royalty was reflected in the quarterings of their coat of arms. Many of the claimed ancestries are considered by modern scholars to be fabrications, especially the claims of kings and emperors who trace their ancestry to gods or the founders of their civilization. For example, the Anglo-Saxon chroniclers traced the ancestry of several English kings back to the god Woden (the English version of the Norse god Odin) If these descents were true, Queen Elizabeth II would be a descendant of Woden, via the kings of Wessex.

In fiction, it is common to give a character a complicated fictional genealogy to make his or her background more interesting. A picturesque one is the genealogy for Godwulf of Asgard.

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Planning a Great Family Reunion

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It’s that time of year when people start thinking about and planning a family reunion. It can seem a daunting task bringing together members of your family and making sure there is enough food and fun for everyone. But it doesn’t have to be. With a little organization, you can plan and have a great family reunion!

 Family reunion invitation

When planning a family reunion don’t forget to include the essentials on the invitations! The first thing you want to do after you have decided on a place for your family reunion, is to make sure there is lodging for everyone. A good idea is to have some hotels and park info printed out so everyone can make their travel arrangements. Include a map to your reunion site with the hotels and parks marked so family members not familiar with the area can find their way around. If there are family cemeteries, old homesteads, etc.. close by, it would be great to include these locations on the map as well.

 Family reunion theme

For genealogists, this is an exciting time. One family reunion we attended had a long table with a printed out family tree about 10 feet long on it. There were plenty of pencils for everyone to fill in the blanks and add their own information. Many branches of the family tree were filled in that day.

We brought along a spiral notebook with photocopies of old family pictures and family group sheets in clear plastic sheets. That way we could share and not be worried about old photos getting lost or damaged. This notebook was a big hit and with the help of others, we were able to identify some old pictures where we were not sure of everyone who was in the photo.

There was also a table at the entrance at this reunion with a notebook for family members to fill in their name, address, phone number and e-mail. You could ask for a small donation to cover printing costs and later everyone could have a copy of the family phone book.

Family reunion activity

One of our family reunions had old fashioned games for the children. The sack races, Frisbees, and other games broke the ice with kids and by the end of the day all of the younger cousins had made new friends. Plus the older Aunts and Uncles had a great time watching!

There was also a family picture taking time with video tape recorder and still cameras. Everyone would line their family up, say their name, age and where they were from.

Family reunion gift – door prize

At another family reunion there was a raffle with a donation jar. Handmade items were donated as door prizes and the money went towards the cost of hosting next years family reunion. This was a lot of fun and it was great to receive the lovely handmade prizes! If you intend to ask for handmade raffle gifts or plan on making a family phone book, don’t forget to put this information on your invitations.

Family reunion ideas and help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are probably lots of family members who would love to help with the reunion. They might have wonderful ideas for activities, be willing to print out family info sheets, help arrange for the food, organize activities, etc..

Remember, everyone can do something but no one can do everything. With just a little help and planning, you have a great family reunion!