Enhance Your Memoir
I know firsthand how unraveling your family history is an exciting and rewarding journey, providing a deeper understanding of your heritage and personal identity. Research into my family history taught me how my grandfather’s grandfather disembarked from port Hamburg, Germany, to arrive at Ellis Island in 1888. A generation later, my grandfather’s father and uncle Anglicized our name from Skwaris (which hails from a village in Ukraine) to Squires.
At LifeStoryMemoir.com, we offer a variety of ways to complement your memoir, creating a robust experience that incorporates multimedia, such as audio and video, and genealogical research. My clients who have elected to embark on genealogical research have been astonished by how much awesome information exists in the thousands of repositories around the world—far more information than the lay person typically finds on their own—and by the depth that information adds to their family’s story when it is integrated with their narrative.
I’ve written previously about the many benefits that preserving your family story provides the storytelling and their family. Here, we'll explore the numerous benefits of exploring your genealogy and why it's worth embarking on this captivating adventure.
Genealogy Uncovers Your Ancestral Story
Genealogy research allows you to unravel the unique tapestry of your family history, and even your place in human history. By tracing your lineage, you can discover captivating stories and remarkable accomplishments, as well as unexpected connections to historical events and significant figures, helping you feel a sense of pride in your story.
For example, my client Alice was amazed to discover that the first historical record of her maiden name, Whitney, dates to 1066, though at the time it was spelled ‘Witenie.’ William the Conqueror rewarded one of his knights for valiant service in the conquest of England with a castle in Herefordshire, England, named Witenie because it was on the bank of the Wye River. It’s a deep story, explaining why the name changed to Whitney and the political reasons behind Alice’s ancestors having to leave England for Connecticut and Long Island.
The Whitney Family Crest, created in the 12th century after a Spanish bull distracted Syrian soldiers from killing Alice’s ancestor
Genealogy Helps You Connect with Living Relatives
One of the most exciting aspects of genealogy research is the opportunity to connect with living relatives you may not have known existed. By tracing your family tree, you can find distant cousins or even reconnect with estranged family members. These newfound connections can lead to beautiful reunions, shared memories, and new relationships that strengthen the bonds of your extended family. One of my clients, thanks to genealogy, is connected with more than two hundred first, second, third, and fourth cousins, and they’ve been keeping a family newsletter for many decades.
Discover Cultural Heritage Through Genealogy
Genealogy research allows you to delve into the customs, traditions, and cultural heritage of your ancestors. By understanding and preserving these aspects of your family's history, you ensure that they are passed down to future generations. Whether it's a traditional recipe, a unique celebration, or a long-forgotten craft, embracing and sharing these traditions can be a wonderful way to honor your roots and strengthen family ties.
Another of my clients, through genealogy research, learned his ancestors’ occupations and addresses going back to 1600s Austro-Hungarian Empire. LifeStory’s researcher was able to unearth a variety of registry entries, from records of my client’s ancestors’ births and deaths to marriages, confirmations, and citizenship.
My client’s grandparents’ home address in Prague, 1898, and his mother’s birth registry in Chrastava, North Bohemia, 1899
Understand Your Health and Genetic Traits
Exploring your genealogy can provide valuable insights into your family's health history and genetic traits. By identifying hereditary conditions or predispositions, you can make more informed decisions about your own health and take preventive measures if necessary. Additionally, understanding your genetic heritage can enhance your knowledge of cultural or ethnic-specific health practices, allowing you to incorporate them into your own well-being routine.
Genealogy Enhances Personal Identity and Sense of Belonging
Genealogy research can help shape your personal identity, as it provides a deeper understanding of who you are and where you come from. By learning about your ancestors' triumphs, struggles, and experiences, you gain a broader perspective on life and a stronger sense of belonging. This knowledge can instill a sense of resilience, empowering you to face challenges with the knowledge that you are part of a long line of resilient individuals.
Embarking on a genealogy research journey as an optional add-on to be incorporated into your LifeStory is a rewarding endeavor. From discovering your ancestral story to connecting with living relatives and preserving family traditions, the benefits are immeasurable. By embracing your roots, you not only gain a deeper understanding of your personal identity but also contribute to the preservation of your family's history for future generations. So, pull out your family tree, gather all the details you can, and embark on an adventure that will uncover the remarkable stories that make you who you are. Happy exploring!
To reiterate a few key takeaway points:
·Complementing your LifeStory Memoir with genealogy research deepens the memoir itself. The research report is added to the book as an appendix, and all relevant material is integrated in the narrative.
Professional genealogists are virtually guaranteed to locate more information, documents, and images than the lay person can, even someone who has spent time exploring Ancestry.com. What the genealogist finds is often related in some way to important historical figures and/or moments.
This research often helps people connect with distant relatives.
What the research reveals may open up a whole new world to you; discovering that your ancestors lived in a certain place at a specific time can fill you in on important details about the ways they lived and thought.
Genealogical research findings sometimes teach you about your genetic makeup, which helps you make more informed decisions for yourself and your family.
Understanding your inter-generational story—what your ancestors had to do to survive—has proven beneficial to mental and emotional health.
If you are looking for help capturing your story or a loved one’s story, or you have already begun but need help moving to the next stage, please reach out to me.
To see examples and learn more about our process, philosophy, and how we can help you, visit our website, LifeStoryMemoir.com.
Richard Squires is a memoir writer living in New Jersey. He has written forty-plus memoirs and published fiction and book reviews in myriad literary journals. His company LifeStory Memoir helps people keep their family stories alive forever by writing their memoirs.