Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Genealogical Beginnings


The organized activity of gathering historical information dates back into antiquity. One of the early notable collections of knowledge was the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. This huge library is estimated to have more than 40,000 parchment and papyrus scrolls. Not all of this collection was genealogy, but it is likely that some of it was. Of course, we have some selective genealogies in the Bible. In Western Europe, genealogy was originally the purvue of kings and nobles and used primarily to establish the legitimately of various claims to power. In some areas of the world, such as China, genealogies have been kept for thousands of years.

But there is little about modern genealogy that really relates back to these more ancient practices. The first historical society in the United States was established in 1845. This is was and is the New England Historic Genealogical Society of Boston, Massachusetts. Currently, the Federation of Genealogical Societies in the United States has over 500 members. In England, the Society of Genealogists was founded in 1911. Genealogy, as it is practiced today, is a rather recent innovation based on some of the historical concepts with some modern twists.

There is one book that sets forth the history of genealogy in the United States and I have referred to it in past posts, but I needed to remind all of my readers of the necessity of understanding the history that brought to where we are today. Here is the book:

Weil, Fran├žois. Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.4159/harvard.9780674076341.

This book explains how and sometimes why we have vast online genealogical databases and reading this book will give you a perspective that you may not presently have. Remember that those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.

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