Sometimes I worry if all the time I spend on genealogy really matters. When I am at the end of my life, will the late nights, weekends and vacation time I have devoted to genealogy truly have made any difference in the world? This last week I saw a few examples where I think genealogy has not only influenced how people see themselves, but where it is making a change in the present.
DAR – Changing Hearts & Minds
Did you know that approximately 5,000 Revolutionary patriots were black? With the exponential effect of descendants, that means that their progeny could have quite a presence in the Daughters of the American Revolution. However, the DAR has been fighting a bad reputation since Marian Anderson was prohibited from singing at the DAR’s Constitution Hall in 1939. And though the DAR has had other issues over the years that have discouraged women of color from joining, that finally seems to be changing. A new chapter in Queens, New York has a black founding Regent and 5 of the 13 members are also black. A fine day for the DAR and I hope an inspiration for others to join. The history of America is a rich tapestry of contributions of many different ethnic and religious people. Their courage and patriotism deserves to be honored and remembered. History tells the story, but genealogy connects it to us personally. The article in the NY Times can be found here.
Megan Smolenyak’s Hey, America Your Roots are Showing
Megan Smolenyak is the closest thing we have to a “genealogist celebrity.” When the media needs some research done on President Obama, they called Megan. However, that is only a small part of her contributions to the craft. In her book, she tells stories about helping to discover the descendants of POW/MIA soldiers who have been found in foreign lands, assisting adopted adult children connect with their birth families, returning artifacts back to their families and other tales of genealogical kindness. I encourage you to read the book. You will enjoy her creative problem solving methods and see how genealogy reconnects people…and when all is said and done, connecting people is what really matters after all.