Genealogy for modern people

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

— George Santayana, Reason in Common Sense

Solutions abound for the deteriorating state of society today. One must think creatively and find fixes in the most unconventional of methods. United Shitlords propose remedying some of modernity’s maladies via a 12-step programme based in genealogy. We assert these studies as another implement in the analytical toolkit used to shape world views.

1. Find your roots

Feeling lost or dejected? Ready for some soul-searching, yet the purse strings pull too tightly? No need to go anywhere! Knowing your origins could help decide where to go when you possess the resources.

Journey through time and space from the comfort of your home. Sense the satisfaction in the choices and actions of your ancestors. Their decisions set your place at the table of today.

2. Connect with your family

Oral history, a forgotten tradition, formed a core tenet of bygone societies. Pass some afternoons with the older generation, rather than shuffling them aside awaiting their demise and estate disbursement. They appreciate the attention.

Perhaps, you tire of interacting with jaded, overgrown children and their 140 character attention spans. Build stronger bridges between family members instead. Talk to them. Hear their stories. Remember your ascendants.

3. Acknowledge life’s hardships

Prepare to see babies living 13 days and couples losing several. Typical causes of death included anæmia, gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, neonatal tetanus, and countless others which faded from commonality last century. Imagine the pain your great-great grandparents felt and the fortitude at which they endured such difficulties.

Generations ago, no one found time to complain about oversised arses not fitting into yoga stretch pants. Real problems required resolution. Understand this. Part of learning respect entails acknowledging the sacrifices your progenitors gave to bring you here.

4. See traditional roles in practice

Look at any census from 1850, the first year which listed women individually, to 1940, the latest year released in the US. Few show an occupation such as anthropologist, sociologist, or “communications”. Nearly all job field entries state “housewife”, “home”, “keeping house”, etc. Civil records from some countries documented the woman’s job as “the labours of her sex”.

Vital and census records collage
Collage of vital and census records depicting the woman’s role in the house

Let’s ask ourselves:  By what factor increased our quality of home life over the course of the last 50 years? After running a cost-benefit analysis of women in the workplace, can we conclude our societies continued to strengthen? If not, how about we rethink this little experiment?

5. Observe how families functioned

Throughout our history, divorce didn’t exist on a large scale until 1970. Then, you begin noticing a pattern — the fracturing of families. Women started leaving men to start new lives with other men or their feline companions plus alimony.

Additionally, in earlier times, if a man’s wife died, her unwed sister married him. Even if they bore no children, the idea of keeping the family unit stronger with two parents persisted. Picture such an event these days.

6. Recognise homogeneity

One aspect worth noting regarding past communities centres around their demographics. Notice how a village maintained a more or less homogeneous composition throughout the course of existence? No coincidence there. Check Château Heartiste’s reference list on diversity for some explanations.

If towns survived centuries without “needing” diversity, what makes us think countries thirst for it today? Must Saudi Arabia or South Korea push toward a more heterogeneous demographic like Western countries? What outcome could we envision?

7. Sharpen your investigation skills

Forget progressing beyond three generations if you lack attention to detail. The focus and commitment mandatory for in-depth comparison across large datasets taxes even the experienced genealogist. Think of yourself as solving mysteries, sometimes managing a dearth of evidence.

Two families share the same last name, similar first names, and inhabit a large city. Which family belongs to you? Knowing an occupation or street address means the difference between adding another generation to the tree or not. Hold the tiniest of particulars in your head.

8. Hone international studies

History and geography aid the researcher immensely. Understanding European territorial changes in the 18th and 19th centuries help narrow the scope of searches as well. Study maps carefully and remember that places rename over time.

If you live in the United States, your ancestors immigrated there. Upon discovering their origins, don’t count on English language documentation. You paid attention in Spanish/French/German class, right? Get ready to use said knowledge.

9. Develop better ideas for holidays

In lieu of spending the holidays gorging on buffets and drinking yourself into oblivion in a different nation with people from your homeland, why not a quiet, idyllic fortnight touring small towns in Shropshire, England? Embark on a chapel tour in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Relax on the bay of Pietracorbara, France, with a population under 600 people.

You not only visit new places but also bring back something of significance to your family. Copy vital records from local registrars and communes. Photograph ancestral marriage records during church visits. Vacations transform into missions.

10. Discover paths to citizenship

Did your great grandfather leave Italy after 1861, give birth to your grandfather before becoming a citizen in another country after 1910, and never renounced his citizenship before any Italian consular officer? Can you prove Spanish and/or Portuguese Sephardic Jewish descent? Does your Irish grandfather live still and might accompany you to the nearest embassy or consulate?

If so, congratulations! In developed countries, another citizenship comes with very few strings attached. Enjoy your low-cost second passport(s), more varied travel options, facilitated residencies, and expanded business opportunities!

11. Tell riveting stories

Genealogy crosses over readily into game. Women love a good earful. Do you descend from a king in Spain? Let her know she rides a champion stud tonight.

Relate new discoveries in witty anecdotes. Embellishing your history augments your sexual market value slightly and any edge improves success rates. Amass more tales and bag more tail.

12. Leave a legacy

No one archives this information for you in the same fine-grained consistency. We learned that trusting states to preserve records over time works insofar as they avoid blowing themselves to pieces every other decade. Create an autonomous heirloom that withstands the tests of time.

Most importantly, impart the wisdom above to your progeny. Young people take keen interest in learning their history. One of your nieces, nephews, or cousins carries the torch to the next generation and the cycle continues.

End notes

Getting started costs nothing except time. The Gramps Project provides free genealogical software for all platforms and FamilySearch‘s indices contain over half a billion records. Depending on how many hours you log daily, producing a family tree of 1.000 people within six months could happen. Start digging.

Edit: We published this piece in draft form yesterday by accident, disabled it, and republished it today in its entirety.

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