Would you like to be part of a totally unscientific study?

Recently, I learned about a study conducted by One Poll for Ancestry (the company). I found it FASCINATING!

Just for fun, let’s see how my readers compare with those who were involved in this study. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Can you write the full names of your four grandparents…maternal, and paternal? Can you do it? I would think MOST of us could do this, but I do know of extenuating circumstances that would make it impossible for some.

Okay….before I let you know how you compare, let me tell you what prompted this post. I’m leading a 5-week workshop on Generational Storytelling (as some of you know) and today was the first day. Module One: Meet the Ancestors! I asked this same question in class. Everyone was able to name all four grandparents. Not surprising, in a group of those interested in family histories – right?

Here’s the second part of that poll. Can you list the full names of your eight great-grandparents? Whew! That can cause you to take a deep breath, can’t it? My guess is some of you have NO IDEA of their names. Others may know a few of the names. If you’re into genealogy or if you’re a family historian, self-appointed or otherwise, you’ll probably be able to list most of them.

Take a moment. Focus!

I can do it but I don’t know all the middle names. Most, but not all. It’s probably because I’m passionate about family histories and ancestors. I’m not all about the dates and facts and gravesites. I’m about the stories. I want to know WHO they were; WHERE they called home; WHAT they did for a living; HOW they ‘survived’ through whatever hardships they met; etc. I want to know their stories. Sometimes that takes a lot of piecing together and a lot of research.

I’m blessed that my brother (my only sibling) is a genealogist. He’s all about those dates and facts, but he also loves the stories. Thanks to him, we have information from many generations back. He has learned over the years where and how to dig up the BEST information from the most unlikely sources, and I must admit, I love being the beneficiary of all his research. He’s a wealth of information. Just the other day, I was trying to make sense of a document from my husband’s family. It was a xerox copy of a copy, and was not very legible. I asked Glenn if he could find the 1880 census of a certain Kansas county so I would have another document to compare. He had it to me in about five minutes….by email…..from Colorado. He’s the best!

But, back to this study. If you were able to list your four grandparents’ full names, you are among 47% of Americans who were able to do that, according to that poll.

Interesting, isn’t it? Not bad, huh? Not surprising, either. Most of us know most of our grandparents (though we may or may not know their middle names). But 47% do!

So…..were you able to list full names of your eight great-grandparents? If so, you’re among only 4% of Americans, according to that survey. Crazy! Only 4%.

But, again, I guess I’m not surprised. Interestingly enough, some of us can go back a few more generations on some of our ancestral lines. I know I can.

I even knew and remember my great-great-grandfather who lived to be 102. I actually have more memories of HIM than I do his daughter, who was my great-grandma. I was very young, and I think our visits to see him were extra special BECAUSE of his age. Plus he was a totally cool guy.

Great Grandpa Hoover was sharp as a tack even in his later years and was the family historian. He had it all in his head until my mom took notes from her grandpa and later passed those on to my brother. That was the beginning of my brother’s obsession with family histories, but thanks to Grandpa Hoover, he had a lot of information to start with on that ancestral line.

You know, it’s funny how some people are so interested in family history and others – even others in the same family – are so uninterested. I just heard that again today. One participant in my class said her brother asks her why she cares about the past.

God made each of us different and that’s okay. Some of us don’t care, and others DO care, deeply. We care about our ancestors and their stories. And, it’s a good thing because, within three generations, family stories become unknown if they are not told. Think about it.

It’s okay to care about the past AND the future.

Generational Storytelling involves both. In fact, that’s why I do what I do.

My days are numbered. Yours are too, even if you don’t recognize it! But I will do all I can to build a bridge between my ancestors (who no longer have a voice) and my descendants (even those not yet born). Why? Because family is important.

Another study was done by Drs. Marshall Duke and Robyn Fivush. They found that children who know more about their own family histories are better able to cope than those who don’t. (That’s a nutshell version, but you get the gist of it. I shared, with permission, the more lengthy version of their study in my class today.)

So, here’s a challenge. How did you compare with the Americans who were surveyed? And, how are you at sharing family stories with the younger generation? I try to do so whenever the occasion arises. What about you?

Stay tuned…more on Generational Storytelling in a few days. Next week’s topic is: “So, You Think You Can’t Write! Hogwash!”

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