A shocking number of Americans don’t know where their last name comes from. We hear a lot of metaphors about “the family tree”, but did you know that creating a family tree has a lot of benefits?
A family tree is a simple diagram of all of the members of your family going back a certain number of generations. While the diagram is simple at first, it can be difficult to trace back several generations, especially in cases of divorces, remarriages, and large numbers of children (people 100 years ago had a lot more kids).
While making a family tree is a lot of work, it’s worth it. This article will walk you through some of the reasons you should make a family tree.
- Cultural Understanding
Does your family have any strange traditions that you’re tied to and just can’t explain? Do you have a unique skin tone, hair texture, or another sort of physical feature that you just can’t account for? Is there a dish that your family makes really well that contrasts with the rest of the ethnic dishes your family makes?
Doing some research into your family tree can elucidate why some of these strangenesses happen. Perhaps you have ethnicity or nationality in your family that you didn’t realize. We’re truly a confluence of our environmental factors, and understanding where we came from will help us move forward.
- Medical Understanding
If there are certain diseases and disorders that run in your family (heart disease comes to mind), it can be useful to see where these came from.
You also might be able to track bits of medical history that you weren’t aware of before. For example, if certain members of your family have wound up with autism, you might do research and find out about a distant aunt or uncle who was described as “quiet” and “acting strange”.
Many afflictions didn’t have names back in the old days, and doing contemporary research can shine a light on the past.
(For an example of this, check out the account of famed literary critic Dr. Samuel Johnson, who lived in the 18th century and most likely had Tourette’s.)
It can be an extremely humbling experience to track where your family came from. Understanding the ebb and flow of your own family’s history can help you gain sympathy for the plight of other families. You may even wind up with more sympathy for the plight of your friends, understanding that there are ancestral forces at play that they can’t control.
How to Make a Family Tree
The internet has made it easier than ever to create a family tree. You can use Adobe to make a family tree with more precision than you ever could with paper and pen.
Learn Where You Came From
When you make a family tree, you can the key to knowledge about your own life. Creating a family tree is a humbling experience, as well as providing you a journey of several types of understanding.
For more articles like this, check out our “lifestyle” section.