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Old 11-24-2012, 09:44 AM
 
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I like to think no person is truly dead until he or she is forgotten.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:22 AM
Status: "Even better than okay" (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lentzr View Post
When exactly did the public's interest in genealogy begin? From all of the old-timers in my family that I spoke to, they seemed to have lacked much interest in it. I know that there may have been some interest back in the old days of those individuals from prominent families. However, like my grandmother once told me, "we just didn't talk about it!" The interest just did not seem to be as big as it is today. However, now, it seems that every family has at least one member who is searching their family's history. The why's of this interest among the general population has already been discussed. However, I am asking about the "when." Anyone remember or have any idea?
I have been interested in my family's genealogy since I was a kid, and I'm now 54. (I've always been interested in the past). So, some years ago, when my parents were going to a funeral of a cousin of my dad's, I asked them to ask my great-aunt, the oldest person in the family, for any information as to when that side came here. My mother did, and wrote it all down. The great-aunt died in 2000, just short of her 100th birthday.

Turns out almost everything she told us was wrong, but at least we had the name of our great-great-grandfather and the fact that he was born in Manchester, England. The dates of his arrival in the US were wrong (20 years too late) and for some reason my great-aunt thought he'd first lived in Hartford, CT, which he never did. But at least when Ancestry.com came to be and my sister started seriously doing genealogy, she had a start. But in my generation, we always had the interest. My mother did also. When we were kids, wherever we went on vacation, if we saw an old cemetery we'd stop the car and pile out and run around reading all the old gravestones.
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Old 11-24-2012, 05:59 PM
 
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Good input guys. Like I said, I know that genealogy has always been around. However, it is definitely bigger now. I definitely think the internet has helped to expand the interest. Note: the internet only started to become available in people's homes beginning in the mid 1990s so other factors must be at play before then. I am too young to remember the 1980s that well, but I do believe interest in genealogy was greater by that time than a generation or two before that.

However, going back to the internet. The internet has made genealogy research a LOT easier than back in the old days. In fact, my family history project has proven to be one of the easier academic activity that I have done. Yes, often I have to revert to snail mail to get documentation or even just a response. However, it is such a piece of cake to just look up where to send the letter! As fascinating as genealogy is it is not rocket science. Yes, it may seem overwhelming to some people at first, but once you know what you are doing it isn't too difficult.

Finally, I will say that I am wondering if post-war prosperity and changes in attitudes towards class has something to do with the increased interest in family history. Before World War II, I guess people from humble backgrounds were not so proud of that background. To have more modest backgrounds eventually became much less of an issue. Now, no one really cares if you are a descendant of a Vanderbilt or Morgan. By the 1970s, the majority of the country was middle-class and historical wealth was not of so much significance, especially considering the growth of "new money." Agree?
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:32 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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Post-war prosperity really had nothing to do with it. It was the television show "Roots"' pure and simple. Incidentally, it aired in 1977.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:08 PM
 
Location: Native Floridian, USA
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Originally Posted by TribalCat View Post
I don't have an answer to that, but a lot of families have passed down bibles with their genealogy written in them. I don't think it's a new phenomenon, but I think we're a lot more open about things like out of wedlock births and multiple marriages than they used to be, so maybe we keep better records now.
This. Instead of writing everything down, my Mother was a prodigy of oral history about her family. My fathers family was big on genealogy (bibles, stories) and were not necessarily prominant people, just yeoman farmers.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:13 PM
 
Location: Native Floridian, USA
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Originally Posted by EnricoV View Post
I started in genealogy pre-Roots. It was around, but there weren't anything like the numbers after that aired. That show increased interest a lot. But the huge explosion came with computers. That exploded interest. Unfortunately, the numbers seem to be made up of a fair percentage of dilettantes ... Happy to find someone else's tree posted online, and to copy it.

In the early 1900s, genealogy was done mostly by people trying to prove their lofty connections. Interest in the genealogy of the common-folk (my ancestors) came a few decades later.
Also, this. Those happy to copy aren't concerned that quite often, the data is just flat wrong....even with others disputing that data.....kind of frustrating but I don't really care about that anymore.

I think in the early 1900's, most people that were old families already had that connection through bibles, letters, etc. I think"common folk" is what has driven it in later years. It's putting the pieces of a puzzle together.....some people really aren't interested and that is fine.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Native Floridian, USA
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...PA2UK....snipped...This is also why cousin marriage were so much more common in the south of the American colonies than any other colony - they wanted to keep all their power and money within their elite class and within their family....snipped
People have always tended to marry and associate within thier classes. That isn't a southern phenomenon. Didn't the upper classes in the UK also tend to marry cousins and within thier class ? All we have to do is read history to know that. It was the same in the New England states as well.
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Old 11-26-2012, 05:47 PM
 
1,301 posts, read 1,243,193 times
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Default Secretary of the Cemetery

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
I have been interested in my family's genealogy since I was a kid, and I'm now 54. (I've always been interested in the past). So, some years ago, when my parents were going to a funeral of a cousin of my dad's, I asked them to ask my great-aunt, the oldest person in the family, for any information as to when that side came here. My mother did, and wrote it all down. The great-aunt died in 2000, just short of her 100th birthday.

Turns out almost everything she told us was wrong, but at least we had the name of our great-great-grandfather and the fact that he was born in Manchester, England. The dates of his arrival in the US were wrong (20 years too late) and for some reason my great-aunt thought he'd first lived in Hartford, CT, which he never did. But at least when Ancestry.com came to be and my sister started seriously doing genealogy, she had a start. But in my generation, we always had the interest. My mother did also. When we were kids, wherever we went on vacation, if we saw an old cemetery we'd stop the car and pile out and run around reading all the old gravestones.

I walked innumerable cemeteries until, at least in Pennsylvania, I found out that each one had a clerk-type guy with an index of everyone buried in the cemetery and their plot location. Also through the years, head stones get pushed flat and sink, and the grass grows over them. If there is a stone that is.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:43 PM
 
1,459 posts, read 2,120,147 times
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Originally Posted by Mistermobile View Post
I like to think no person is truly dead until he or she is forgotten.
What a lovely post.

I am trying to keep alive 500 people and counting
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:17 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
8,220 posts, read 12,805,062 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieA View Post
People have always tended to marry and associate within thier classes. That isn't a southern phenomenon.
In "Family Life in 17th- and 18th-Century America" by James M. Volo, Dorothy Denneen Volo, it says of the colonial south:

"To maintain the integrity of the family structure, the female relatives would gather to trace the family tree from long before the rise of the Stuart kings. Intermarriage between second and third cousins was promoted to strengthen the connections within the extended family. Nowhere else in colonial America was the status of an extended family of cousins more closely followed or revered."

Quote:
Didn't the upper classes in the UK also tend to marry cousins and within thier class ?
It was common among the nobility and royalty, yes, and that is probably part of the reason why is also became more common in the south, because many aristocratic Englishmen settled in the southern colonies. However, I never said cousin marriages were exclusively a "southern phenomenon", just that is was more common in the southern colonies than northern, which is true. I'm sorry if you are a southerner who took offense to my comments but you have taken them the wrong way and assumed I meant things I've never said.

Quote:
All we have to do is read history to know that. It was the same in the New England states as well.
Actually, in Puritan New England, cousin marriages were very uncommon. That is not to say that families outside the Puritan communities didn't engage in cousin marriages and I never said it didn't ever happen in New England. But again, I only said it was more common in the south, not that it only ever happened there. Again, in the book quoted above, it says also "cousin marriages were almost unheard of in Puritan New England". Do you have any sources that say otherwise? Because I'd be interested in reading them.
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