Why I Do Genealogy Research

8 Apr 2014

I recently volunteered in the Lore Local History Room at the Concord Library. A man, who I would guess to be in his 60s, came in and asked for help to solve a mystery that had troubled him his whole life. He was emotional as he told his story and I could tell it disturbed him to his very core.

He had been adopted as a baby by parents who had given him a good life, however, he was an only child. His adoptive parents were now deceased and neither of them had siblings. Grandparents and other family members were long gone. As the only one left, he felt alone and disconnected. He explained that he had been desperately trying to find someone – anyone – from his birth family. He needed to know if there were others with whom he was related. State law prohibited him from getting any information from the closed adoption records and he knew absolutely nothing about his birth family. He asked me, and one other researcher in the room that day, if we could offer any ideas of what to do. With few other options, both of us suggested the quickest and easiest way to get information would be to take advantage of DNA technology and get a test kit. Results could then be compared to others and perhaps he would get a hit. Open to the idea, the man left feeling a little more hopeful and was determined to do the test.

There are many practical reasons for doing genealogy research, such as tracing inheritance, land records or medical conditions, but for me, as in the case of the gentleman at the library, it’s that need to feel connected to others, both past and present. It’s hard-wired into our very being. While it is truly exciting to discover and document source information, I’m not content to just add names, dates and facts to my database. I want to know the stories of their lives and the historical context in which they lived. These stories help me to better understand them, and in turn, my own place in history. It helps me feel grounded, invested in my community and in the legacy I leave to my children. Family history research is a celebration of the gift of life and shows gratitude to those who came before us. Our ancestors’ life energy – both their strengths and struggles – flows through the generations into each of us, as ours will for those yet to come. Genealogy makes history personal.

Future blog posts will feature resources and reference material, historical people and events, and stories about everyday life in Cabarrus County.

Whether you are a curious amateur or a seasoned genealogy professional, document your heritage, or help someone else with theirs. Submit a copy to your local genealogical repository. The Cabarrus Genealogy Society would be pleased to feature a story in our blog or journal. Contact us at cabarrusgenealogysociety@gmail.com . Don’t forget to write your own story – no one knows your life better than you. Leave something for those who may be looking for you in the future!

Denise Steward McLain
Cabarrus Genealogy Society