What Is The Purpose of Genealogy?

What is the Purpose of Genealogy?

Today as more and more people think about their family’s ancestors, they also think about their genealogy. So the question we can ask ourselves is, what is the purpose of genealogy?

The purpose of genealogy is to study family, family history, and the tracing of our lineage or our ancestors. The purpose of genealogy goes far beyond the dates, names, and places of our ancestors.   This is because as you do your genealogy, you begin to learn more about your family and yourself.  Genealogy helps to unite and link families together as you discover things about your family that you did not know.   

It can be said that the work of genealogy is a work of self and family discovery.   

Through Genealogy You Discover Yourself

As you do your genealogy, you will discover more about your family and even discover some relatives you did not even know.

For example, when people ask me what nationality I am, I will often tell them I am half Swedish, and I have some German and English blood. This is how I identify myself – yes, I am an American. Still, I also have many Swedish, German, and English ancestors; I also identify with them as important.

If you are going to sum up the purpose of genealogy, I will sum it up as the ability to learn more about yourself as you learn about your own ancestors. The more you discover your ancestors, the more you will also discover about yourself.

I have a great grandfather Lewis Bookwalter.  In the mid-1920s, when he was in his 80s, his wife had died. He decided to travel and take on a new adventure.   His daughter, my grandmother, Ruth, lived in  Peking (Beijing) China with my grandfather and aunt and uncle. Grandfather Lewis also had another daughter Lulu who is working in Ceylon or present-day Sri Lanka.  Great Grandfather Lewis left a comfortable home in America and traveled by ship to China to visit his daughter Ruth and her family.    

While in Beijing, he taught Ancient languages at the University.  Here was this 80-year-old tall, skinny man with his grey hair and beard, living in Beijing in the 1920s and teaching at the University.  What an adventure that must have been.  After four years of living in Beijing, he boarded a steamer ship to travel to Ceylon or Sri Lanka to visit his daughter Lulu who was running a Christian school there.   

Great Grandfather Lewis took a freighter ship from China.  The ship stopped 10 days in the Philippines. He writes of spending 10 days walking the streets of Manila waiting for the next ship that would take him to Sri Lanka.  

I am not sure what Manila was like in the late 1920s.   But I do know it is certainly not like the Manila we know today.

As I learn about my great grandfather’s adventures, I learn something about myself and my life.  I feel like I can relate to Great Grandfather Lewis Bookwalter.   

I have spent most of my life living and working overseas.  This means I am an ex-pat as I am living away from my own country – America.     So I know a bit about what it means to leave your homeland, leave your family, and live in an unfamiliar country or place.  

I learned a bit about my great grandfather Lewis Bookwalter; I also learned about myself. I learn that maybe what I am doing by living overseas is not so unusual for my family. Since my ancestors who have also gone before me also took a similar route in life.

As you do your genealogy research, you not discover about your family but also about yourself. Genealogy helps you know where you are from and helps you discover who you are.

Genealogy Helps Unites Families 

Genealogy can help you to unite families. Not every family is united.  Not every family wants their stories to be told. But as you do your genealogy, you will meet relatives you maybe did not know.

This is because as you do your genealogy research, you become connected to deceased relatives, but you will also find living ones. Working on genealogy can help you feel an attachment to your living relatives and also future posterity.

As human beings, we crave connection and belonging.  Genealogy and family history work allows us to connect back in time and link forward to future generations.

By doing your genealogy research, you may find relatives you did not know who are also part of your family line.  You may have a chance to connect to them, which may even help you understand more about your own immediate family.  Genealogy research is the pathway or the door to help you to be able to open these kinds of connections.

Genealogy Helps Connect Your Lineage and History

As you do your genealogy research, you may learn interesting things about your family line that you did not know. You might learn some family connections to some important historical events that you did not know.    You might find that you were related to a famous person in history.   Or you may learn the true story of an old family story that has been passed down. 

As you understand more about your ancestors and your family, you may become familiar with a namesake. You may also better understand some family photographs,  journals,  or other family keepsakes that you may have.   

As we understand some of the struggles and hardships that our family members have gone through, we may find we have greater love and compassion for them, and that may inspire us as we face our own challenges in life. This can help us build up our own resilience in life as we know the pattern of overcoming from our ancestors who have gone before us.

If you want to know more about yourself, one of the best ways to do this is through genealogical research. As you do this, you will discover more about yourself and discover about your family and those members of your family who have gone before you. And this will be one of the greatest discoveries of all.

Related Content

What is the Difference Between Genealogy, Family History and Ancestry?

Genealogy is about data collecting and verifying your ancestors’ data or family members who have gone before you. It is the process of collecting the information and verifying that your ancestors are related to you. Family history is about learning about your ancestors and all about their lives and stories. Ancestry is who you are related to. Ancestry refers to blood relations but can also refer to a family you are adopted into.

You can find out more by reading the blog The Difference Between Genealogy, Family History, and Ancestry by clicking here.

What Are Things You Discovery By Doing Your Family History Work?

By researching your family history, you can learn about new family members you did not know about. You will learn about the history of the place where your family once lived. And finally, you can discover the traditions and culture of the country your ancestors once lived.

You can discover more by reading our blog 3 Things You Discover By Doing Your Family History by clicking here.

Anita Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Hummel. I live in Hanoi, Vietnam. I love to share with you about my family history and the many parts of the world our ancestors have lived.

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What is the Purpose of Genealogy?