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From the Green Valley News, Friday 23 May 2008, page C5

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Who is Your Great Granddaddy? hired zOmnibus Survey recently to find out how interested Americans are in their family history and how much they know about their families. The results are thought provoking.

Half of the persons surveyed know the names of only one or none of their great grandparents with 33% unable to name even one great grandparent. A staggering 22% donít know what either of their grandfathers did for a living.

For the younger generation, this is not surprising. With grandparents commonly living many miles or even many states away from their families, grandchildren donít have daily exposure to them as they did when Grandma and Grandpa moved in with their children in their later years.

Southerners know the least about their roots, with only 38% knowing both grandmothersí maiden names compared to 55% in the Northeast. Knowledge of where their families lived before coming to this country is known to only 27% of respondents.

Again, this is no surprise. For those who emigrated in colonial days or the 1800s European roots have been lost to time. Later emigrants often refused to talk about their native country. They were eager to learn our language and customs and assimilate into the American culture. Few second generation descendants in the 1900s ever learned more than a few words of their familyís native languageóit just wasnít used with the children.

Contrary to popular thinking, 83% of young Americans age 18-34 are interested in learning their family history compared to only 73% of those over 55.

The interest shown by young Americans demonstrates that family is still important to them in this technological age of impersonal contacts. Think how much more enthusiasm students would have for American History if they knew where their own families fit in the picture.

While it appears many Americans would like to know more about their families they often donít know where to begin. Others may be interested but not want to invest the time or money in pursuing their ancestry.

While there are millions of genealogy Web pages on the Internet they are overwhelming to someone just beginning to search for his ancestry. The surveyís sponsor, alone has over 24,000 searchable databases and titles. Where to start . . . ?

Join your local genealogical society. Monthly speakers, classes, workshops and seminars are available to educate and inform. Valuable contacts are made with other members with varying degrees of experience around the U.S. and the world. Here a beginner can learn the right way to find information, how to evaluate it, where to go for help, what records are available, the type of information contained in them, and what to do with the information after itís found.

Read more about the survey online at Would you like to know more about your family history? How would you answer the question, "Who is your Great Granddaddy?"

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