Search Historical Records

Family History - Genealogy
Family History - Genealogy Articles and News

Family history is the systematic narrative and research of past events relating to a specific family, or specific families.

While genealogy is the convenient label for the field, family history is the over-arching term, since genealogy in the strict sense is only concerned with tracing unified lineages. Other sectors of family history, such as one-name studies, may pay only rudimentary attention to lineages, or may emphasize biography rather than vital data.

Forms of family-history research include:

  • genealogy (tracing a living person''s pedigree back into time from the present, or an historic person''s descendancy to the present, using archival records)
  • genetic genealogy (discovering relationships by comparing the DNA of living individuals);
  • one-name studies (an investigation of all persons with a common surname)
  • one-place studies (population histories including the German Ortsfamilienbuch)
  • heraldic and peerage studies (inquiries into the legal right of persons to bear arms or claim noble status)
  • clan studies (inquiries into groups with a shared patrilineal or matrilineal connection to a tribal chieftain and his servants, although they may not be related by blood and may not share the same surname)
  • family social and economic history (telling the story of a family''s place in society or economic achievements using oral and written records, or inferring information about lives from wider historical sources; this subject is treated below)

Unlike related forms of micro-history, such as corporate histories or local studies, family history research begins with only an approximate notion of the extent of the entity - the extended family - and never fully defines it, since the early origins of all families become invisible in prehistorical times. DNA genealogy offers some hope of moving this boundary further back into time.

Family history needs little justification in communitarian societies, where one''s identity is defined as much by one''s kin network as by individual achievement, and the question "Who are you?" would be answered by a description of father, mother, and tribe. New Zealand M?ori, for example, learn whakapapa (genealogies) in order to discover who they are.

Family history plays a part in the practice of some religious belief systems. For example, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a doctrine of Baptism for the dead, which necessitates that members of that faith engage in family history research.

Until the late 19th century, family histories were almost exclusively of interest to persons who had obtained their wealth or rank by inheritance. Other people, who had inherited nothing, might, in extreme cases, suppress their family history as a matter of shame.

In societies such as the United States or Australia, there was by the 20th century growing pride in the pioneers and nation-builders. Establishing descent from these was a concern in groups such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, and helped differentiate those descendants from later immigrants with lower status.

In racist societies, such as Nazi Germany, family histories were compiled to affirm individuals'' affiliation with the "master race" and to adhere to legal requirements for marriage.

Modern family history explores new sources of status, such as celebrating the resilience of families that survived generations of poverty or slavery, or the success of families in integrating across racial or national boundaries. Some family histories even emphasize links to celebrity criminals, such as the bushranger Ned Kelly in Australia.

In Germany, family history was misused by the Nazis and today is still often perceived as a threat to privacy rather than as a source of self-esteem. Most 20th-century sources remain unavailable to the public on privacy grounds. Funding of support for family history at archives is limited. German family historians thus tend to emphasize instead how family history can contribute to learning and science.

© See Wikipedia, Family_history. The Free Encyclopedia. is licensed under the GFDL. Accessed Saturday 14th of February 2009 11:32:51 AM





The searchable indexes on this family history site are provided as free resource to family history / family tree researches.
The aim of this site is to encourage the research of genealogy, family history and family trees. Family history and genealogy encompasses the lives and ancestry of individuals and families.
Reward yourself with amazing discoveries while researching your family history. Discover your family history today.
Australian National Motor Museum