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  • Writer's pictureTom Vachet

Understanding Your Past

The past serves not only as a gateway to the present, but also hints at our future. Genealogy is the study and tracing of family lineage and past. Human beings are naturally curious in wanting to know who they are. As a result, this field has recently gained immense popularity as people seek to learn more about their ancestors, heritage, and historical places. Genealogy has significant cultural, social, medical, and historical benefits.

Personally, I have, over the past four years, delved into the history of my own family, including my maternal grandmother pictured above, seeking a better understanding of not only where they came from, but what they overcame to get here. In the process I have assembled a database holding the personal information of 34,000 ancestors, with origins traced to medieval times in Northern Europe, England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Understanding an individual's roots provides a sense of belonging, identity, and purpose. It also equips one with the necessary medical knowledge that can be used in identifying health risks. In addition, genealogy research is good for mental stimulation and establishing family connections. Finally, it can be turned into a cash-generating project such as a book or research paper, such as I have done.

Fortunately, technology has revolutionized genealogical research, making it more accessible, efficient, and accurate than ever before. One of the most significant ways technology has transformed genealogical research is through online databases and archives. With the inception of the internet, genealogists no longer need to spend hours sifting through dusty old records in archives and libraries. Instead, they can access millions of digitized documents from the comfort of their own homes. These online databases include census records, birth, marriage, and death certificates, military rosters, immigration and naturalization records, and much more. Many of these databases are free, while others require a subscription or membership fee.

Another significant technological development in genealogy is DNA testing. It is a powerful tool that provides valuable insights into a person's ancestry and health. DNA testing allows one to confirm or refute family rumors, finally putting to rest any lingering questions about a person's heritage. Moreover, DNA testing can also help connect a person with relatives one never knew existed, potentially expanding a family tree and providing a sense of belonging. Companies like AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage have made DNA testing accessible and affordable to the general public. As a result, individuals can uncover fascinating details about their family history and genetic makeup with a simple saliva sample.

Another technological development revolutionizing genealogical research is software programs designed specifically for genealogy. These programs allow users to organize and store their family history research in a structured and efficient manner. Programs like Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, RootsMagic, and Family Tree Maker provide features like charts, reports, and timelines to help users visualize and understand their family history. These programs can also synchronize with online databases and archives, making adding new information to a family tree easy.

I have recently embraced artificial intelligence as it is emerging as a powerful tool in genealogical research. Artificial intelligence analyzes vast amounts of data quickly and accurately, making it possible to uncover new connections and insights that human researchers might have missed. In addition, by comparing data from different family trees, AI algorithms can pinpoint potential inconsistencies, alerting users to possible errors and enabling them to correct inaccuracies in their family tree. It ensures that family trees are accurate and helps avoid errors being perpetuated in future research. As a result, AI is a valuable tool in genealogical research, aiding novice and experienced genealogists in their quest to trace their ancestry

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