Why Learn Genealogy?
Have you ever wondered why genealogy and family history research is so popular? What is it that drives people to spend so much of their money and time pursuing their ancestral past?
On a personal level it may start with a question of self-identity “Who am I?” or a need to know where we belong “Where do I come from?”
In 1964 psychologist H. J. Sants, coined the term “Genealogical Bewilderment” in describing identity issues in adoptees, Sants theory declared that adopted children experienced a greater degree of stress than children raised by their genetic parents due to an absence of knowledge of their origins.
In 1952 a letter was written to the Journal of Mental Health by psychiatrist E. Wellisch, titled “Children without genealogy: The problem of adoption” in which he said:
“Knowledge of and definite relationship to his genealogy is … necessary for a child to build up his complete body image and world picture. It is an inalienable and entitled right of every person. There is an urge, a call, in everybody to follow and fulfill the tradition of his family, race, nation, and the religious community into which he was born. The loss of this tradition is a deprivation which may result in the stunting of emotional development.”
While not everyone who engages in genealogy as a hobby is suffering from an identity crisis, there is still an echo of truth in these words.
Perhaps we feel a little disengaged from the far off shores of our homelands or maybe the answer lies in the theory of ancestral memory as expressed by Carl Jung’s “collective unconscious”, Freud’s “archaic remnants” or the more modern idea of “genetic memory”. All theories which at their heart suggest that within each individual is a body of knowledge or a memory passed down through our ancestors.
Speculation and pseudoscience aside there is no doubt that genealogy has become a popular hobby. The most current report on market trends for genealogy by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (statistics as of January 11, 2012) show that between US$1000 to US$18000 is spent per year on genealogy research by over 84 million genealogists.
Ultimately, the why of genealogy research can only be answered by the individual pursuing it and perhaps it is best left at that. However, one thing all of us addicted to climbing our family trees can agree on is that it is one of the most rewarding hobbies around.
If you are ready to begin learning about your family tree start here at Genealogy Beginner.