02 February 2009

Family History - Ancestry and Privacy

Why is it that genealogy is a more common hobby in some countries than in others?

And why is it that many people in previous decades did not want to reveal much about themselves and their ancestors, even within families?

Your research

Have you uncovered interesting information in your search for clues about your family history?

Why did some information remain hidden for such a long time?

Was it because of shame or guilt?

Was it, perhaps, because whatever occurred was seen as normal and not considered a worthy topic of conversation?

Were there aspects in your family history likely to have been considered abnormal at the time?

There are a lot of issues relating to ancestry that are very important to our sense of identity.

If you were conceived by IVF or you were adopted or fostered or never knew one or both of your birth parents, like many people in a similar situation you may feel a sense of longing to know more about your genetic links to other people.  You may therefore be longing for a sense of belonging.

My research

My grandmother Dorothy may have never known that she was one of eight children. Her mother died when she was four. Soon afterwards, Dorothy and her youngest brother, the only sibling she ever mentioned, went to live with an aunt. We do not know what happened to any of the other children.  We do not even know the name of the aunt.

I have discovered quite a lot about my own family history by looking at census records. Have you done the same?

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I especially appreciate historical insights.