Family History Month

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Why do we care about family history?  For one thing, there are very practical
advantages to understanding your genealogy and medical history, as it can be
essential to maintaining good health.  
For another, family history is the lifeline of diversity.  Religious and cultural traditions are passed
down through generations, and knowing your heritage can help preserve what
might otherwise be forgotten.  But maybe
the most fun answer is that it’s always interesting to learn about yourself;
knowing your own history is simply integral to your sense of identity.  Your family’s story is your most direct
connection to history: how you came to be born.

Ever since modern humans came to exist, they have been on the move.  Over thousands of years, human
migration
has led to the on-going, evolutionary adaptations that create racial
diversity
and to the development of the cultural
landscapes
in which we live, today.  War,
conquest, slavery, and the search for resources have carried the human race
across the globe, and today, we can still see the demographic patterns that
history has created. 

For instance, consider the map below, in which each county is
colored according to its population’s majority ancestry, as of 2000. 

map.png

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

By derivative work: Louis Waweru, Talk
Census-2000-Data-Top-US-Ancestries-by-County.svg: Conscious (Census-2000-Data-Top-US-Ancestries-by-County.svg)
[Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

Each color on the map has its own story.  American Indian and Aleut/Eskimo peoples,
shown in yellow and orange, were the first inhabitants of the United
States.   “American” ancestry, shown in a
light neutral color, marks connection to the first European colonists: families
that have been in the United States for hundreds of years and therefore do not
claim European ancestry, anymore. 
Interestingly, people of this descent are clustered in the region of
Appalachia.  Another intriguing pattern
is the dominant light blue across the Midwest, marking German ancestry; Germans
were immigrating to the United States in large numbers as far back in time as
Benjamin Franklin, who expressed
concern that the foreign population was growing too large in Pennsylvania
.

Other patterns are more concurrent with well-known history
and current-day events.  States with the
largest populations of African American descent (in purple) are those that used
to run plantations, and those with the most Mexican ancestry (pink) are still
clustered around the Mexican border.   

Family history extends far beyond your grandfather’s
name.  If you know the names of your
ancestors – even a few generations, back – and the places and dates of their
births and deaths, you can start to piece together the geographic story that
made your existence possible.  Don’t wait
until next October to do some digging; see how much you can find about your
ancestry, and then write it down to pass on to future generations!

–Lindsey Luria for National Geographic Education

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s