Those of us who are in or from the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week. We don’t usually think of this as a genealogy holiday. However, when you think about it, there is a strong “ancestral” connotation involved, even for those of us whose ancestors did not travel on the Mayflower in 1620.
Thanksgiving is a time when we pay homage to all our ancestors who traveled to a strange land to find a better life for themselves, for their children, and for succeeding generations. This is equally true for ancestors who arrived in the twentieth century as well as earlier years. We should all give thanks to our ancestors for helping to establish our American way of life and ensuring that we are a part of it.
I would also suggest that Thanksgiving is a perfect time to ask family members what they remember about departed ancestors. This is especially true if there are elder family members at your Thanksgiving table. Ask them about your grandparents, great-grandparents, their aunts, uncles, and cousins, and maybe even earlier generations. Who were these people? Where did they come from? How did they earn their livings? Where did they live? What were their hobbies? Were they religious? If so, where did they go to church or to a synagogue? What family stories and traditions do they remember? Ask lots of questions!
Oh yes, write it all down. You might want to even ask permission to record the conversations. You may learn more across the Thanksgiving table than you could glean in a dozen visits to a local Family History Center. Best of all, you can learn the personal stories and other tidbits that were never recorded in public records.
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, genealogically speaking and otherwise.