What happens to our genealogical research when our race, our culture, our ancestors…. have been eradicated by nuclear war, oppression, and/or cruelty?!
Over the centuries, many evil leaders have ignored the humanity of other people, sometimes their very own citizens. This has been a fact of history --can we make history stop repeating itself? Can we become more civilized, kind and inclusive? Have we made progress or not?
I would not even attempt to chronicle all the events that spring into my mind when I contemplate these atrocities! From ancient times, people have conquered and destroyed each other. In the Middle East and in China, warriors were brutal to other cultures. Rome devastated their share of people and cultures also. None of our ancestors were probably spared in any 3rd or 4th generation being scarred by conquering, war, slavery, or ethnic cleansing. The British/Americans in their conquering of Native Americans, and selling people into slavery. Hitler and his unfathomable execution of and cruelty to Jews in the Holocaust---the horror goes on and on it seems. Even now we have ethnic cleansing of their Rohingya minority going on in Myanmar, and Isis encouraging the killing of Christians, Jews, and Muslims all over the world. Do you think you could document your ancestors who are living in refugee camps all over the world as they flee violence?
In America, Africa, Europe –all over the world—white nationalists—white supremacists work to instill fear in the hearts of anyone other than “white” citizens! African Americans, Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, Asians. World leaders like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Hassan Rouhani, Mugabe….and others, seem bent on spewing hate and torture through war on many of us innocents all over the world!
So, what happens to our ability to do genealogical research when people die or are enslaved for years? We have a great and terrible example for us when we look at the difficulty of conducting African American genealogical research. It was only a few years ago that I really got involved in doing genealogical research of different cultures. Part of that was due to my having done my DNA and finding more ties to other cultures than previously perceived by this southern American white Christian woman had dreamed of having. I not only learned that I was the descendant of a melting pot of world citizens, thank you very much, but that I had blood relatives, ancestors who were Jews-- and their Nazi persecutors!! Horrors! I also met and became friends with some of my African American cousins –themselves the descendants of my white great, great, great, great, great, great…grandparents who owned their own enslaved grandparents! More horrors! In my own genealogical research—were colonial American settlers who fought and killed Native American Indians—because they wanted their land, I am sorry to say,—and there were the shameful slave owners, and breeders! In our genealogical research we glorify our ancestors who fought in wars—the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, WW I and II, Vietnam! Really? I did as well…but I am rethinking my values—at the same time, we have to take a stand and stop evil leaders from ruining us! I am proud of those who fight for the right reasons—but who decides what is right—what is good or evil?
Now that I realize how hard it is to do African American genealogical research, because of their oppression! Only a few slave names were ever recorded—their first names might have been listed on property tax forms or in wills where they were willed “in perpetuity along with their descendants”! Only in the 1870 census in America—260 + years after the first colony at Jamestown was founded, were most African Americans named fully and counted as free people in our country! Ten to twelve generations of ancestors –lost, unaccounted for—due to their oppression! Unfathomable cruelty! Even in 1870, women –black and white could not vote, had no voice in their governance. Disenfranchisement, erasure, violence, killing and maiming—prejudice—wow, isn’t it amazing that we can trace anyone in our past?
Maybe those of us who are into DNA and genealogical research –and there are millions of us worldwide now—thanks to Ancestry, FTDNA, 23 and Me, Gedmatch, My Heritage, WikiTree, Family Search, Genealogy Bank, and so many more—maybe if the millions of us stood up to be counted—stood up and said “Enough! Enough Killing! Stop the Hate! We want peace on earth. We want our children and grandchildren –and our 7th great grandchildren to know who we are and to have a world to live and create in.” –maybe we could change the current war cries. We know the leaders of the world think of us as faceless – but we know we are important in the chain of ancestors and cultures, of people!
Women's march, Washington, DC, Jan. 2017,
Write, march, shout…most of the world is full of normal, kind people who love children, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, and friends. Most of us smile and greet each other—and we help each other --- even with our genealogical research! Maybe WE need to make the rules and set the norms for a while! Let your voice be heard—and let your descendants be proud of the person you were! We must find a way to topple the leaders who hate and want to eradicate and humiliate us and others. We must champion those who are cooperative, inclusive, and caring! We have work to do, so we can continue to have genealogical research to do….and descendants to do it!
Letting my voice be heard…Helen Youngblood Holshouser, Nov. 29, 2017