Saturday, April 18, 2015

What Use are Dead Ancestors?

My younger daughter signed our family up with an online genealogy site.

A few days ago I received a message that there had been updates in our family.
I clicked the link.

My father’s name is now misspelled.
My father’s mother’s name is now misspelled.
My father’s current wife is listed as a relative of my mother.
My brother, sister and I are now listed as children of one of my father’s other wives – not our mother.
And my father’s current wife is listed as dead.

I spent the time correcting these errors. 

Then I thought – why do I care? If the only way this site will know anything about my family is if we tell them, then they’re not doing anything we can’t do without them.  They’re not accessing the Mormon database of ancestors that goes back centuries.

My father’s brother researched a family tree for my father’s family in honor of my father’s father’s 50th wedding anniversary.  The entries go back to the time when people only had first names, and has the story of how his family got their last name.

There are a few details, such as careers that some of my ancestors followed. But mainly they are just names without stories.

The online genealogy site is less detailed than the paternal family tree. And since they have mistakes in the living members files, I see no reason to care about the older ones.  Actually, I’d only care if there were stories – the whole fun of having family is the soap opera.

My older daughter is interested in a different website – one that studies the genetics of families – what diseases they have, how many neanderthal genes they carry. I can see a use for this – it might be nice to know what diseases to be on the lookout for. But my family doesn’t have hereditary early onset cancer or other diseases that can be treated by modern medicine. So, I’m not excited about this service, either.

I think the current soap operas and diseases present plenty of problems, and that these history services don’t help solve them.

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