Today’s post isn’t really about tips or tricks. It’s just something I’ve kind of been thinking about recently especially since I have a history essay due tomorrow and I am frantically trying to write it.
In many history classes that we take throughout middle and high school and college, it is all about the main parties of people and how they are affected. I felt like this was especially true in my college history classes because they were so fast-paced that it was like there was no time to focus on the individual. But that is really what I’m interested in. I understand that the groups are the people who tend to influence history, but I also want to know about the woman who had to go back to being in the home after feeling a sense of importance in the work force during World War I or II. I want to know about the husband and father who worked so desperately to earn money for his family not to starve during the Great Depression or on a farm in the Dust Bowl.
That’s what family history is. It’s a focus and a mindset on the individual. Yes, we look at whole families and use relationships to find out information about a person, but we are looking so much closer than many historians do unless they are writing a biography on someone. But even then, it’s usually a major figure. In family history, we get to focus on the people who certainly made an influence in the world, but mostly only to a select group of family and friends.
I just think it’s so cool that there is an avenue to explore the real people and what they did in their lives. Even if all you can find out about them is that they were born in Shoreditch, England in 1854. That still makes them a real person. And because of history, we can know what was happening around them as they grew up.
So next time you’re studying the Civil War, I hope you remember your ancestor who fought for the Confederacy against his uncle. Or if you’re learning about the Irish Potato Famine, remember your however-many-greats grandmother who had to watch her children go hungry and feel helpless. Because they are people and they matter. And what happened to them should never be silenced, but remembered and written about and turned into stories at the dinner table.