Yes, I made up that word. Genealogy + Anthropology = Geneanthropology.
Genealogy defined by Merriam-Webster is:
Sounds easy enough, right? Genealogy involves gathering information on our ancestors generation by generation going back into history as much as we can.
Genealogy information can fill up a Pedigree Chart (click here for a printable chart) with names, dates, and locations and these facts can help us develop information on who they were. It can go back hundreds of years or to royalty (not to break any bubbles but everyone with European ancestry is related to Charlemagne and has some royal ancestry. Here’s why)
But ask yourself this: are you more than a name and date on a piece of paper? Of course you are! You have stories and memories; you’ve made an impact on your friends and family.
In this regard, genealogy compliments nicely with anthropology and as Emily Garber wrote,“Genealogy IS Anthropology…Anthropology is the study of culture and how cultural constructs help humans to live in and adapt to their environments. It defines who people are.”
When I research an ancestor, I gather the usual names and dates; however, I apply that information with what is historically known at that time. How did this person impact their society? If an ancestor migrated to a new location…why? How did they adapt?How did those people around them adapt? How did the environment change with them or because of them?
We all have that oddball skeleton in the proverbial closet; however, most of our ancestors were not famous people. They’re more than likely not going to be found in a history book or have a place in a museum. The important thing that I can’t stress enough: they are just as important as everyone else in those history books.
This is my approach to genealogy: by understanding our ancestors and the impacts that they made on the world around them, we begin to understand ourselves and the impact that we make. It helps us understand why we have certain traditions or family recipes. It helps us figure out why we are the way we are -warts and all.