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 Family History



Press Release of Senator Hatch September 26, 2001




WASHINGTON - By unanimous consent, the Senate today approved legislation introduced by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch to designate October as "Family History Month." "Millions of Americans are researching the history of their families," said the Utah Republican. "Experts say that in the United States, genealogy is now the second most popular hobby next to gardening. It is believed that more that 80 million Americans are currently actively searching for more information about their ancestors. "It is only natural that we want to find out more about our ancestors," Hatch continued. "What better way to bring families closer together than by discovering more about the story of their own family? Like it or not, who we are today is in large part, a product of our ancestors. Hatch's bill (S.R. 160), which was co-sponsored by Robert Bennett (R-Utah), commemorates October as Family History Month and encourages President Bush to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe the month of October with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

"With the advent of the Internet, there has been an explosion of interest in family history," Hatch continued. "Last month alone, more than 14 million Americans used the Internet to research their family history. Genealogy Internet sites are some of the most popular sites on the World Wide Web.

"Essentially, we are all immigrants to this country. Our ancestors came from different parts of the globe," Hatch said. "By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family. S.R. 160 had 84 co-sponsors and was approved by unanimous consent. "Researching ancestry is a very important component of identity. It can lead to long-sought-after family reunions or allow for life saving medical treatments that only genetic links will allow," Hatch said. "For all of these reasons, I encourage people across this nation to find out more about where they came from."

You Are Hereby Appointed Family Historian

By Michael R. Boyter

We all witnessed the passing of the last century, and with it's passing, the memories of the 1900s live on only in the minds and memories of we who lived it. Tragically, for those who fail to keep a record of it, priceless family history, is going, going and soon to be gone!

Think about this:

Those who where born in 1990's will not remember much if any of the 1900s.

Many born prior to the 1930's have already left us! So it is left to the rest of us to record all we can about ourselves, the world we live in, and of our beloved family members that came and went in the 1900's. Without doing so, when we are gone…so is your family's link to the past. Then your family, in the years to come, will have to make it through life without the benefit and comfort of your wisdom and knowledge.

So, it is incumbent upon us to become historians of sort.

Now how many of us, while sitting in a boring high school history class, ever thought that we'd be historians of the 1900s?

Someday Your Descendants Will Number In The Thousands

It's true that most of our written accounts of history will only be read by our descendants, but we ought not to discount the possibilities.

The Net is the futuristic version of a "cave wall". The typical cave discovery tells us of how people lived thousands of years ago. Likewise, your personal history tells your story but it also indirectly records society and how it affected you and everyone around you.

Many of us put parts of our family history on the Net and it's likely that our descendant will someday "contribute" other parts of your history to online archive/biography-type sites.

Can you imagine the longevity of what you write today? Even on message boards!

I have, in my possession, a journal written by my great-great-great-great grandfather. His name was John Murdock. He was born in the late 1700s. That's more than two hundred years ago.

It's hard for me to imagine that my great-great-great-great grandchildren could be reading of my life in the year 2200. Imagine how the world will change by then and how the time in which we now live will contrast against theirs.

With the technology and ability to store information that we now possess, there really is no excuse for anyone's descendants in the year 2200, for example, not to know of you and of the time in which you lived.

If in the future there are no more newspapers, how "boring" will it be to comment on headlines in your local newspaper or about clipping coupons.

If in the future there are no more gasoline-powered cars, how "boring" will it be to passively mentioned changing oil, going to the fuel pump and using language like "miles per gallon".

While to us, these things are boring everyday things, they will be read with interest by your great-great-great-great grandchild.

...Some Didn't Even Know Their Grandparents Complete Names!

I know I may be preaching to the choir, but I have one last point.

To show how fast one's family history can fade, I wish to relate my experiences that I had while working with some 18-26 year olds.

During the mid-1990s I was an Air Force recruiter and I routinely helped these young adults in filling out background investigation paperwork.

I think you'd be surprised at how often it was that twenty-something year old kids couldn't tell me their parent's birth dates. Nor did many of them know where their parents were born. Some didn't even know their grandparent's complete names.

This is a sad trend. You, by keeping a journal and writing your family history, can prevent a trend like this one from happening in your family.

Someday your descendants will number in the thousands. Will they know of you and share your wisdom? Will they know anything of the eventful 1900s and the times you had?

It's entirely up to you.

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Historians versus Genealogists


Genealogists and historians often look at the same data but for

very different reasons. There are occasional conflicts between the

two, especially when deciding how to allocate funds at a library

or archive. Each audience believes it should receive more

attention than the other when budgets are prepared.


While historians and genealogists might scowl at one another

across reading tables in archives, they have begun to reach some

common ground on the Internet. A look at genealogy and history

Websites demonstrates the efforts of each group to adopt what is

best about the other, if for no other reason than that the Web's

accessibility to the public means that the intended audience for

the material is, de facto, much broader than either group has ever

before considered.


You can find a great discussion of this at Common-Place. Look at: