Every family historian begins their search with a few simple questions: Who were my ancestors? and… Where did they come from? Most of our first and second-generation answers are easily obtained from close family members – usually. However, our true story is far deeper than the basic facts of names, dates and locations. The complexity of our families cannot be defined in simple terms; we need to explore the inner dynamics and subtleties in the undercurrents of the inter-woven fabric of our family.
Culture and its accompanying behaviours, traditions, stories, etc. (Folklore) are an interesting and integral part of who we are as human beings. As we explore our roots, we are encouraged to begin to determine:
- how has our primary cultures (race, ethnicity, nationality) influenced our ancestors over the generations; and,
- how has our subcultures (religion, family, occupations, etc.) been formed and influenced by the intergenerational folklore passed down from our ancestors.
Looking more intently into our own lives and the lives of our forebears, we will discover unique family experiences, and uncover what has been hidden in plain sight. Unlike other research projects where official documents are accessed, and the basic facts are extracted and analyzed, examining the inner workings of our families – the things that have not been written down and perhaps never previously investigated, will stimulate the “why” questions for further study. These cause us to dig deeper in order to gain an understanding of the origins of our own folkways.
In the course Demystifying Culture and Folklore, each component will stimulate the need for deeper investigation and will prompt participants to pursue “the rest of the story” to verify what was revealed. The outcome will be a richer understanding of our family and the lives of our ancestors – Demystifying its unique Culture and the Folklore that has been passed down the generations.
Blog posts in this series:
Part 1: Demystifying Culture and Folklore: Intro
Part 2: Our Primary Cultures
Part 3: Our Immigrant Ancestors’ Culture
Part 4: Cultural Assimilation