Is Genealogy Only For Perfect Families?

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed since I’ve started reading genealogy blogs:  Most of them are written by people with basically happy families.

I see people recording memories of their idyllic childhoods, their beloved relatives, and their multi-generational research trips.  They’re fun to read…but if that’s all you read, you might get the idea that genealogy is only for people who come from relatively normal families.  That’s just not true.

I know people from different backgrounds than that, from abusive relationships, parents who didn’t want them, homes that were broken in ways they can’t even begin to share (I’m talking about recent history and serious stuff here…not wacky great-uncle Lurvy who collected squirrel skulls).  For those people, there’s no chance of a Sentimental Sunday post.  If you’re one of those people, though, don’t feel left out.  Genealogy is for you too.

There’s tremendous value in finding out who your family was.  If they were flawed and broken and ugly…well, there’s probably a reason.  Maybe you’ll find it.  Sometimes one catastrophic event a century ago can change the course of history for generations.  Other times the patterns are more subtle…generations of women who married alcoholics or a history of mental illness, for example.  Sometimes you won’t find any explanation, but you’ll at least know that not everyone in your family sucked.  Nothing will change your past, but context might help you put it in perspective.

If you’re one of the people who comes from a family like this, you’re not alone.  You won’t read about the others in blog posts, because not being able to talk about it is often the nature of the beast.  But there ARE others out there, searching for clues as to why things turned out the way they did.  It helps.  It might help you too.

Photo by foundphotoslj

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