Day 5: The Importance of Family History

This post is part of the Anglo-Indian Project Holiday Season series 2017


There are many reasons why you may be interested in your family history and three key themes emerge when reviewing various sources, including books, websites, speaking to family historians and genealogists:

  1. Discovery: This could be the discovery of other people, but will also be about discovering information about yourself. Finding new information about those who lived before us can bring a lot of joy, not only in the discovery of people we may not have known existed, but also in the nuances of their everyday lives; their name, school life, occupation(s), marriage(s), where they grew up, where they lived. These discoveries can also provide insight to your own life: some of those mannerisms or traits you’ve developed may be traceable to distant ancestors. Connections to countries away from your homeland may also provide a new perspective on your views of the world.
  2. Preservation: Discovering new information and ancestors can be exhilarating, but the preservation of that information can be of higher value. You are assembling a story of your life and the lives of those family members who went before you. Official records, photographs, anecdotal comments and nuggets of information, pieced together can provide a rich portrait of you and your family history.
  3. Legacy: The preservation of information and the story you’ve assembled not only serve as a valuable resource for current family, but can be kept for future generations to read and add to. Those names you’ve ‘brought back to life’ and the information you’ve added, will serve as a valuable resource for future generations and continue the legacy of your family.

A Powerful Trigger for Identity and Well-being

In addition, children who report knowing more stories about their family history show higher levels of emotional well-being and higher levels of identity achievement. From birth, children are surrounded by stories. These stories from parents, about them, about parents, about grandparents, are a powerful frame for children to understand the world and themselves. This family storytelling can provide children with a sense of identity through their family history. It is suggested that family stories are a critical part of children’s emerging identity and well-being; these findings provide valuable insight to the power of family history as a framework for discovering, preserving and communicating family stories. If nothing else, it seems that a key message for creating a happier family is to talk, a lot.


Coming Soon: In Search of Ancestors in British India: Where to Start – Sign up here

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Cover photo by Anglo-Indian Project


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