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History, Our History, is Important

I write this while hot, sweaty, covered in dirt and sawdust, and soaking wet.  My three year old son is in the same condition, but being this way made me realize how history, our history, is so very important.

The Importance of History

I recently read an article titled, “The Importance of History[1].”  This is a great article that shows how history, while fixed and unchangeable, is subjectively viewed by historians through their own view of their current world.  The facts of history do not change, but the interpretation of the facts can.

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Photo by PublicDomainPictures, licensed under CC0 (1.0)

While this is not directly referring to genealogy, the history we uncover while doing our research can be subjectively viewed by the researcher.  After all, look how many folks are related to that Indian princess, or all the royalty of Europe.  The subjective view of the family historian of their family in an attempt to prove  sense of “legitimacy” to their lineage can skew their research and they miss out of the true history of their family, and that is why I mentioned being dirty and wet at the beginning of this article.

Part of the spiel about the research I do is, “Our ancestors were not simply facts and documents, but living, breathing, laughing, crying, and loving individuals.”  This is the history I look for in when I am investigating individuals in history.

Our History

This morning I took my son to the back field and we began hauling sticks and branches off.  I cut away low hanging branches and encouraged my son to drag the branches, some being more than five times his size, off to the trash pile.  The tall grass was wet with dew, and we were both covered in sawdust and dirt, but we got some work done.

Afterward I filled some water guns and we had a water gun fight, with many refills and a hose getting involved.  There was a lot of squeals and cussing (you can guess who was doing what).

This is history, our history.  This is the future history of our descendants.

Recent History

Years ago I used to sit with my great grandmother and play rather aggressive games of Gin and Crazy 8s (she was the aggressive one).  I would spend my summers with her in Norfolk, Virginia, enjoying her homemade ginger bread and cheesecake that I am still trying to replicate.  She would dress me in naval dress blues when I was about five or six years old and take me to the naval yard in Norfolk.  Everybody along the road would stop and salute, so naturally I thought they were saluting me.  Unbeknownst to me there was a sticker on the front of the car indicating my great grandfather’s rank of Commander, and that was what they were saluting.

This is my history, the history of my children, and one day, of their children.  This is our history.

A Remarkable Escape

A young man was removing a window on a tall building in Virginia as a part of re-roofing the building with slate.  The window gave way and he fell over 100 feet, through a mill house below, and not suffer a single injury[2].  He married a few years later, had children, and lived a long life.

This was my 2x great grandfather, the father of my Commander great grandfather, and the history of great grandfather, my grandfather, my mother, me, and my children.  This is history, our history.

The long and short of what I am trying to get at is history is made up of “a story that is significant and true[3].”  Significance can be subjective to the rest of the world, while the facts themselves are objective, but significance to your family are those little facts that occurred that show your ancestors, and yourself, as more than, “simply facts and documents, but living, breathing, laughing, crying, and loving individuals.”

Document these facts and occurrences, tell the stories, and pass them on to your descendants.  This is our history.


Get some sleep.  Work on the various adoption cases of genetically related family members.


Tired and having to push through in my studies and research.

[1] Crabtree, David, “The Importance of History,” November 1993, McKenzie Study Center, Gutenberg College; online article, 2001, Gutenberg University ( : accessed 6 August 2017)

[2] “A Most remarkable Escape,” Staunton Spectator (Staunton, Virginia), 20 June 1882, p. 2, col. 1; online image, ( : accessed 6 August 2017)

[3] Crabtree