Friday, April 18, 2008

Estate Planning tip from Ellen Goodman

I always thought that genealogy was for people whose blood ran blue. It was for folks who traced their ancestry to the Mayflower or the American Revolution, not those who came over in steerage one step ahead of the Cossacks.
Ellen Goodman writes a good column for the International Herald Tribune on some research she had done by the NEHGS, and what she learned.

She concludes:

There are other bits of paper in my genealogical binder. It's moving to see the name of the actual ship that brought my family to America and the naturalization papers that required them to "renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity" to the Russian czar, which they must have done with pleasure.

But what we really want from the generations past are not just the facts or the DNA.

We want the stories. Love, passion, success, disappointment, humanity. There may be no way to know - really know - their interior life. But how many of us would trade in the data for one good diary? Will we remember that in our own "estate planning"?

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