American Genealogy: How to Trace Your American Family Tree
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Date: April 2017
Duration: 1 hours 18 minutes
Genealogy is increasingly popular these days. The popularity of the television show “Who Do You Think You Are” and the plethora of websites and books on the subject (this book included) attest to the popularity of understanding the present by uncovering the past. Just one hour of television viewing can bring you several commercials for Ancestry.com, and that’s just one genealogy service. There are magazines, blogs, podcasts, and even degree programs about genealogy. Genealogy has become big business, worth over $1.6 billion - that’s billion with a “b” - in 2012 alone. Why this sudden fascination with tracing our roots?
Some people say it’s because the modern world is in such a state of confusion and flux that the past, that golden realm where all of the bad things are over and everything has already happened, can see like a much safer place to put our attention. I actually think that in our drive to be more self-aware, we have discovered that to know who we are, we really need to know who we’ve been and where we come from.
There is so much that can be learned from researching your family’s past, not just about the people who came before you, but also about the world as it once was. A family tree is history writ small, showing the effects of larger events on individuals, and sometimes the influence of individuals on larger events. It’s a personalized form of history, with a bit of old-fashioned detective work thrown in for good measure.
About the Expert
Jody Cummings is an amateur genealogist who has been researching her family tree for more than 13 years. She earned a B.A. in History, Spanish and Anthropology from the Michigan State University Honors College and has published several novels under the name J. A. Cummings.
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