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Genealogy Day

Genealogy Day takes place on the final day of Celebrate Your Name Week, which occurs each year during the first complete week in March. The day's creator has said of it, "Climb into your family tree. Jiggle a few branches. Start piecing together your personal history today via one of the world's fastest growing hobbies, genealogy, a puzzle waiting to be put together."

Genealogy can be defined as the study of family origins and history. The word is of Greek roots, coming from the combining of the word for "family" or "race" and the word for "theory" or "science," which together mean "the science of studying family history." Genealogy can be basic or complex. Amateur genealogists usually focus on their own family tree, while professional genealogists concern themselves with many families, often researching ancestry for clients. Genealogical information is often arranged using a pedigree chart.

Genealogy has existed in some form throughout the history of civilization. In ancient times, oral traditions and memory held the first genealogical stories. With the advent of writing, genealogies took on a new form, first in places like Greece and Rome. Genealogies focused on nobility and royalty in the years between 1100 and 1500, but expanded to everyone after that time, when feudalism was on the decline and new classes were emerging, including a middle class. Other factors leading to the rise in genealogy at that time were the Reformation and the monarchs of the Renaissance wanting to have more information about their citizens. Genealogical work has increased since World War II, particularly with amateurs, and genealogical societies have proliferated. There is even a holiday dedicated to genealogy, and we celebrate it today!

How to Observe Genealogy Day

Celebrate the day by starting to piece together your personal history! Perhaps you'll be able to gather enough information to make a pedigree chart. Some ideas to get you moving on your genealogical research include:

  • Have conversations with your older relatives—such as parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents—and ask about family history and what is known of your ancestors. Make sure to take notes. Inquire if there are genealogical records, photo albums, letters, postcards, or a family bible you could look through, or if there is an already-compiled genealogical account of your family.
  • Explore public records in libraries, courthouses, city halls, historical societies, and Family History Centers, as well as online through newspaper databases and genealogy websites, such as Ancestry.
  • Pick up some genealogy books.
  • Subscribe to Family Tree magazine and explore their website for genealogical information.
  • Join a genealogical society.
  • If you are one of the older members of your family, have conversations with the younger generations about your family's genealogy, and work with them to research your family history.

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