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Americans and their obsession with ancestry

Why do so many Americans trace their ancestry? I have friends in other countries and they don't brag about Mayflower ancestors or being related to kings.

by Anonymousreply 15205/09/2015

Idiot Americans.

by Anonymousreply 106/07/2010

We're fairly new and came from different places. Just like Nomi Malone.

by Anonymousreply 206/07/2010

How about to queens?

by Anonymousreply 306/07/2010

Americans' ancestors came from all over the world and were (almost) all immigrants who have interesting histories. We are naturally curious to find out about our histories. In most other countries, one's ancestors are less mysterious.

by Anonymousreply 406/08/2010

Ancestry is only important to the snobs on the East Coast.

by Anonymousreply 506/08/2010

Because we are a people in search of ourselves. We are a democracy but everyone wants to have initials after their name or a rank in front of it. I once was taught that to have those honorifics on a tombstone are totally out of place because the body is dead and the honorifics are only for those who are alive. However, it is nice to have one's DNA genealogy done for health reasons alone.

by Anonymousreply 706/08/2010

Well you moron, this country was founded by immigrants and as such people have a natural interest in tracing their heritage. The next step here is that those who can trace their ancestry to the founding fathers feel elevated by their past. It is not all that different in Europe in relation to tracing ones background to the aristocracy.

Obviously, your friends in Europe are descendants of serfs and peasants and thus have no interest in tracing their backgrounds. Your observations are more reflective of the company that you keep as opposed to the greater population's interest in ancestry.

by Anonymousreply 806/08/2010

[quote]I have friends in other countries and they don't brag about Mayflower ancestors I wouldn't imagine so.

by Anonymousreply 1006/08/2010

I blame it on the Mormons. Originally they were doing it to baptize their ancestors but now they're doing it for the money. They own most of the research tools on this crap?

by Anonymousreply 1106/08/2010

I guess if your family has lived in the same village for a thousand years there's no reason to be curious about your heritage. It's all around you. Immigrants came to America to invent new lives for themselves, so a lot of times stories from the old country didn't get passed down to later generations.

by Anonymousreply 1206/08/2010

It's not so much the obsession with ancestry (nothing wrong with that), but placing a disproportionate emphasis on it. For example, attributing one's looks or personality to a distant lineage, or assuming because a great-great parent (or often a more distant relative) came from Italian, Ireland, England etc... you too are Italian, Irish, English.

My friend excuses her ex-GF's bad behaviour on her "Irish blood", the ex-GF has some distant Irish ancestry. I'm more Irish than she is!

by Anonymousreply 1306/08/2010

I think the ones I have probelms with are the ones who decide they are related to a particular famous person and try to trace their tree downwards from that person to 'prove' it. I have someone like that in my own tree. She is convinced she is related to Anne Boleyn and refuses to accept evidence to the contrary for which I have the original documents.

by Anonymousreply 1406/08/2010

I know OP! They never do this in Europe. It's because Europe is, well, just a Utopia!!!! They are born knowing their family history and have progressed beyond curiosity. I envy them so. Oh Europe I love you from afar. You are so perfect.

by Anonymousreply 1506/08/2010

I've never met a European who didn't brag about their ancestry. OP has probably never met any actual carbon-based European life forms.

by Anonymousreply 1606/08/2010

You think just because you made a little money you can get a new hairdo and some expensive clothes and turn yourself into a lady.

But you can't, because you'll never be anything but a common frump whose father lived over a grocery store and whose mother took in washing.

by Anonymousreply 1706/08/2010

I'd imagine because there's no such thing as an 'American'. They all came from somewhere else so they are curious as to wheter there relatives came to the US from Ireland or Germany or Russia etc..... On the other hand a person born in Ireland or Germany is most likeley (it's getting more diverse now) just that and their ancestors have been born in that country for as far back as they can trace

Nothing as bad as an American with an Irish great-great grandfather coming to Ireland and saying they are Irish to an actual Irish person. Gives all Yanks a bad name. But I can understand the interest they would have. Jews seem to be the least likely to be into tracing.

by Anonymousreply 2006/08/2010

The people I know in Europe brag about this bullshit all the time. I was witness to a fight by two Polish guys claiming the name "Pemczack" was not true royalty but taken by servants to King Jan Sobeiski. Who now has popular cigarettes named after him.

by Anonymousreply 2106/08/2010

Well what is it about the practice of researching ancestors that so upsets you OP? You should concentrate on finding out why you're such a bitchy queen and less on what others do.

by Anonymousreply 2206/08/2010

[quote] I have friends in other countries and they don't brag about Mayflower ancestors


Take positions!




by Anonymousreply 2306/08/2010

They definitely do have an obsession. I currently know someone who is obsessed and thinks she has royal blood in her because an ancestor hundreds of years ago MIGHT have been of royal lineage, and that she is special because she has ancestors that came in the Mayflower.

by Anonymousreply 2407/07/2011

Because America is a bastard nation, formed from the scrags of other countries societies with no cultural identity of their own, to put it really bluntly. The Americans that I've met who are obsessed with their "Heritage" (and it's a small group, believe me) don't really care for their country and what it is *now*. They claim royalty in the blood because they've possibly looked at their own lives and realised that their mother washed floors and their father turned tricks when he was at college. A lack of identity is bad in a person, but it's worse in a society. And it's not just Americans, you know. Some Australians are obsessed with who and what they are, likewise New Zealanders, or Afrikaaners, or even some British people. But the Americans I know? Yeah, they might have an Irish surname, or a German surname, and they'll mock those who claim to be Irish or German, but they know that they're American. They can point to their families and say that their mother's family apparently came over from Sweden, but their father came from Russia and then get on with it. And woe betide any American tourist that comes to Scotland and claims they're descended from William Wallace.

by Anonymousreply 2503/28/2012

It's even more of an obsession in some European countries like Iceland, where practically the whole nation knows it's ancestry back 10 generations.

by Anonymousreply 2603/28/2012

Why is OP a "moron" for asking, r8?

by Anonymousreply 2703/28/2012

I'm a professional genealogist and I help many others to trace their heritage. It's great fun for me and them.

I have no idea why it should bother anyone that I do this, but it's not the first time I've read/heard of intolerance for this work.

It's hard work, but rewarding, and teaches you about history. It also brings you closer to your elders, because they are always happy to tell you their stories.

If you get a whole picture on where you came from, then you have an easier time knowing where you are going.

by Anonymousreply 2803/28/2012

[quote]Obviously, your friends in Europe are descendants of serfs and peasants and thus have no interest in tracing their backgrounds.

If you ponder this sentence, it tells you both reasons Americans are obsessed with tracing their ancestry. Read between the lines.

by Anonymousreply 2903/28/2012

R28? Do you tell your clients *exactly* what they came from, or do you actively seek out the glamour?

And I don't buy your "if you know your past, you can see where you're going" line. What isn't important is why your Great Granny McShoogle left Scotland, nor why Grand-Uncle Vanya got into a spot of bother regarding that young cavalry officer - but what you say, what you do, and how you treat others *now*. The past is dead and buried. Yes, there are pretty buildings and lovely pictures, but take it from someone who comes from a country that is literally soaked in blood? You're doing no one any favours by saying "you might be a waitress, but hey guess what, your granny was a member of aristocracy!" Times change. It's a shame you don't try and encourage these people to accept who and what they are and try to build a better foundation for the future, not some bastardised version of their past.

by Anonymousreply 3003/28/2012

R30, there is something to the 'nation of rogues' ideology that started America. Go study up on Roger Williams and the character that formed a nation.

To believe that the history of the people that make up a country in no way informs what that country is or becomes is idiotic. There's a huge difference between Italians and Germans and they are on the same continent.

Our history most certainly shapes our present.

by Anonymousreply 3103/28/2012

Interesting projection onto what I wrote, R30. That says more about you than me.

I always tell people that their ancestors "were who they were", and within that, the stories are indeed interesting.

What's also good to know is the full spectrum of how everyone died. That can give one's family genetic clues.

Learning that your great grandfather and his father were also alcoholics who beat their wives can give you an idea of why your dad beat your mom...and can help you understand the trajectory you are on and how you got there, so that you can look effectively forward.

I think many people on this thread have an ignorant idea about genealogy. Nobody I work with or for is after fame and fortune. We are all history geeks who enjoy seeing the causality of various events. There are far more interesting stories than the notion that you have royal blood. Besides, that's really hard to prove anyhow. But what you can prove is exactly where your grandfather got his work ethic from, when you see what his parents went through during the Spanish American War, for instance, and how their dry goods business kept the family afloat...until the 'big fire', which changed everything.

Watch an episode of Who Do You Think You Are. While I think it's silly how they place importance on current celebrities getting their trees done, since everyone's tree can be just as interesting as a celebrity's, the stories revealed make you appreciate the history of this country and what your ancestors' roles were in that.

But of course, people on this thread like you wish to denigrate it and make it sound like we're all reaching for the stars, so there's nothing I can do to stop you. lol. Maybe one day you'll start asking questions of yourself about where you come from. It tends to happen more to people when they get older.

The reason you're seeing an upswing in interest, OP, is because the technology has greatly improved in the past 5 years, and the result of that has been greater media attention.

No, I'm not a Mormon.

by Anonymousreply 3203/28/2012

Because those ignorant of their own history are condemned to repeat it.

by Anonymousreply 3303/28/2012

Intellectual curiosity, including about one's ancestry, is a good thing and should be encouraged.

by Anonymousreply 3403/28/2012

Especially when we're seeing an Idiocracy develop in front of our very's good to cultivate curiosity.

by Anonymousreply 3503/28/2012

I have nothing against people who are interested in their ancestry. I understand the appeal, I understand the excitement.

But, personally, I just don't give a shit. My Mom does research and she really wants to pass on her enthusiasm to myself and my sister. I fake excitement for her sake, but am really not excited at all for the tidbits of family history she is always revealing.

I just can't base my identity on people I never knew. I see those commercials with people saying shit like "my great grandmother lived next to the Wright brothers" and I just shrug.

by Anonymousreply 3603/28/2012

well, R36...your attitude is very common.

by Anonymousreply 3703/28/2012

Well, R36, maybe your Mom is interested in it for the 'fame and fortune' aspect of it, hoping to find someone of note.

That, plus the comment you make about the Wright Brothers, makes me think you see this the same way others on this thread if it's something silly, akin to autograph collecting.

The truth is, this is an opportunity for you to get closer to your learning about where you come from. You might be surprised what you can get from it, if you would disspell the notion that you are chasing stars.

by Anonymousreply 3803/28/2012

Because our families didn't stay in their hometowns for 2,000 years.

Didn't they do DNA analysis on some mummy they found in a British bog and found its direct descendants were still living along the bogside?

by Anonymousreply 3903/28/2012

Australia is very proud of their convict ancestors.

by Anonymousreply 4003/28/2012

My family history is public record, so I've always known it. I find it fascinating though, and online access to information allowed me to find out more about individuals. One lost his wife and children to an Indian massacre, one was basically a political coward who's act had a significant impact on another state. It makes me feel more connected to the history of our country.

by Anonymousreply 4103/28/2012

Actually, if more people were obsessed people might have higher expectations of themselves and country. One minstrel black comic found out one of his ancestors was a serious achiever and it made him cry on the show because he always assumed he was only destined for silliness. People in the US have such low expectations that the waitress finding out granny was an aristocrat is actually a good thing.

by Anonymousreply 4203/28/2012

Americans are not the only people on the planet obsessed with ancestry. The Japanese put Americans to shame with their own ancestral obsessions.

by Anonymousreply 4303/28/2012

Yeah, there are entire societies that are orgnized around ancestor worship.

by Anonymousreply 4403/28/2012

Surely it's not just Yanks? Aren't a ton of Brits VERY invested in ancestry? (aren't they often saying, "my people are from blah, blah..."?)

by Anonymousreply 4503/28/2012

My great grandfather worked on the family tree back in the 1970s. He had his research printed up and distributed around the family. In the 90s, when genealogy information was available online, I took a look and found someone had uploaded his information. I searched some of the dead-ends in his research and found that other people, very distant cousins, had done their own research which filled in a lot of the blanks. One branch of my family settled in Nova Scotia in the early 1600s. Someone had actually traveled to France trying to trace it back farther, but hit a dead end with church records. I only spent an hour or so looking at other people's research, but I was a bit impressed that my ancestors had had the guts to travel the north Atlantic in wooden ships to a fairly uncertain future. I can see how people with some free time on their hands could get caught up in the hunt for more information.

by Anonymousreply 4603/28/2012

Americans are curious about where their ancestors came from. That is very different from a religious veneration of ancestors.

by Anonymousreply 4703/28/2012

The theory is that a man is past his sexual peak when he begins to dabble in toy trains and genealogy.

by Anonymousreply 4803/28/2012

R41, I fear it may have been my ancestors who massacred your relative.

by Anonymousreply 4903/28/2012

R7 We are a Republic. Back to school for you.

by Anonymousreply 5003/28/2012

I am the only daughter of Zeus and a beautiful swan.


by Anonymousreply 5103/28/2012

"Why do so many Americans trace their ancestry? I have friends in other countries and they don't brag about Mayflower ancestors or being related to kings."

Americans who are interested in their roots are not necessarily interested in bragging about impressive ancestors. I would imagine that few Americans seeking to trace their family tree have any expectation of finding a Charlemagne or a Miles Standish. I would also imagine that few of us of particularly caring whether we might be able to connect ourselves to a prestige past.

Why then you ask would we be more interested than others in tracing our family backgrounds.

Americans are more interested in genealogy because, unlike people in a great many other parts of the world, many of us have very little idea of where our ancestors two or three centuries back lived and what their lives were like.

Is it so hard to understand how making a connection with one's roots might be of interest?

by Anonymousreply 5203/28/2012

r49, it was during King Philip's War in Massachusetts, were those your kin? I'm sure my kin knew there'd be consequences for stealing their land and all. I apologize for them. I'm just glad one of my ancestors survived so I could be created!

by Anonymousreply 5303/28/2012

We are 100% Irish on both sides, no marriages with any outsiders.

by Anonymousreply 5403/28/2012

"One minstrel black comic found out one of his ancestors was a serious achiever and it made him cry on the show because he always assumed he was only destined for silliness. People in the US have such low expectations that the waitress finding out granny was an aristocrat is actually a good thing."

Why? Because aristocracy is a sign of lack of silliness and accomplishment?

by Anonymousreply 5503/28/2012

i traced my family back to England. Day workers, all of them, from 1655 to 1890 when a few immigrated to Canada and one snuck across the border to the U.S. Needless to say, I enjoyed myself at the family reunion. The other side of the family won't talk to me now because I proved they were NOT descendants of a Mayflower family. We had a "character" family member from the mid 1800's who did some work in Japan converting the heathens and then came back to the U.S. to be a wealthy minister. I proved he was kicked out of Japan for molesting a child and when he came back and claimed an education that was proven in court not true and forced to leave town and killed in Utah for horse stealing. In other words, he was a typical mormon republican! The families leave me alone now.

by Anonymousreply 5603/28/2012

Back in my hometown, we can trace each other back to the same brother and sister. It makes it very easy.

by Anonymousreply 5703/28/2012

R56 You are insufferable. Who wants to hear their family ain't shit and in the smug manner you say it?

I wouldn't put much stock in the claim that your minister relative molested a child because of Japanese disdain for foreigners particularly non-East Asians. Claims of sexual deviance and drug abuse are very common in Japan to galvanize hatred against non-East Asian foreigners.

by Anonymousreply 5803/28/2012

"I proved he was kicked out of Japan for molesting a child".

Would this have been considered a crime in the mid-19th century? Oh, and did you go to Japan to check this out in the archives?

by Anonymousreply 6003/28/2012

R30 is kind of sad. While I admit I'm keen to track down which of my damn Swedish relatives gave me a colon cancer gene, the plain fact is that your ancestry tells you a lot about who you are in ways you wouldn't even expect. We are not living "in the moment." 95% of what happens to us is bequeathed by history. It determines where we live, what opportunities we have, what the politics and religion are determines virtually everything. You can't understand the contemporary world without understanding the past world, and since our understanding of the past has been so corrupted by conservative lies, finding out the truth about our ancestors helps correct misimpressions. Almost none of mine were Christians of any kind, for example, either in the old Country or this one.

by Anonymousreply 6103/28/2012

I found out through that I could trace my roots back through the Plantagenets and Eleanor of Aquitaine - and then all the way back to Constantine the Great - I ended out at Cleopatra Selene - really. I was totally amazed.

I also found I was the first member of my family to be born north of the Mason Dixon line. We were at Jamestown and my ancestor survived the Jamestown massacre.

Anyway I am such a bore now, all I want to do is talk about my lineage and the Earls of Orkney (more ancestors!). I love it, now when I see history shows on TV about the Plantagenet Kings of England I can go wow that's my 35th or whatever grandfather and it's true.

by Anonymousreply 6203/28/2012

R62, if you used Ancestry Family Trees to come to the conclusion that you are descended from the Plantagenets, I can tell you that that set of lineages hasn't been proven. I was also finding myself connected to them, but while the history of the Plantagenets is well documented, about a century after they stopped ruling England, most all records for the next two centuries were destroyed in while I'm also eager to believe the same as you, be aware that the further back you go, the more errors can be found in these trees people have created.

In short, it only takes one eager researcher to make one leap from an established connection to one that is desirable, and then once that link is published somewhere, you can't undo it. It becomes a commonly repeated connection...erroneous though it may be, and impossible to prove (or prove otherwise) it remains.

by Anonymousreply 6303/28/2012

One of my primary reasons for researching my family tree is health. The fact is my relatives came from all over the place and I'd like to know what I could be in for as I grow older. So many people fail to realize that in addition to the way they live their lives their heritage plays a role in their well-being also. So far I've discovered patterns of cancer, heart disease, addiction and mental illness. Now I may not be able to prevent these things from happening, but knowing there's a risk I can make better choices in my life and try and prevent them. (I just wish I thought that way before I was 25....but hey, better late than never.)

by Anonymousreply 6410/06/2012

I grew up thinking I was 100% white. But as I got older into my teens I came to be suspicious as my dad looks like a combo of Sherman Helmsley and Quincy Jones and honestly his mom (my grandmother) also looked black..Years later my aunt investigated family history etc and reviewed birth certificates it turns out both my grandmother and grandfather were designated as black and thru some strings changed the designation to white...Weird to think I am sort of black but not really- yet I am not white exactly is confusing and fascinating to me for some reason..

by Anonymousreply 6510/06/2012

R65, why do you say you are "sort of black but not really"?

From what you describe, you are definitely part black if not mostly black - you are bi-racial.

And if your father looks like a combo of Sherman Helmsley (who looks black) and Quincy Jones(who looks black) - neither of those two men could ever be mistaken for white - then it is very surprising that it took you until your teens to question your whitness since you grew up with a black father.

And your grandparents were black.

Yet you still cling to some hope that you are white.


by Anonymousreply 6610/06/2012

Illiterate labourers, mill workers, miners and blacksmiths here - AND PROUD OF IT!

It's probably only in the past hundred years or so that any of my ancestors have been able to read or write.

And quite a few of them died young from illnesses/diseases that could now be cured or from workplace issues that would no longer be allowed to occur.

by Anonymousreply 6710/06/2012

[quote]I've never met a European who didn't brag about their ancestry.

EXACTLY. Btw I am well-aware of my ancestry -- my family, on my father's side, arrived in Jamestown in 1630 from England -- but I haven't once even *mentioned* it to anyone outside my family, let alone bragged about it (to real-life persons, and this is the first time I've ever mentioned it on DL). I think it's Europeans who are WAY more invested in ancestry than anyone else.

by Anonymousreply 6810/06/2012

I got interested when my mother was terminally ill.

My family is a bunch of people who hold grudges--my mother stopped talking to her sisters 50 years before she dies. Apparently my grandfather was estranged from his large Italian family.

I never met the majority of my relatives. I was curious. I was curious if the stories I was told were true.

Found out a fair amount. Discovered a second cousin who started researching because breast cancer claimed her mother, grandmother and cousins. She was curious as to where it came from.

I cam across some photos that somebody posted that were incredibly creepy--photos of female descendants who could have been my mother's twins from the late 1800s.

I wasn't looking to see if I'm descended from kings. I knew I wasn't. I just wanted to know a little bit about where I came from.

by Anonymousreply 6910/07/2012

It's the question of - how the hell did I end up where I am and why? It's an interest in why our ancestors moved to this country and within the country itself.

England has a show "Who Do You Think You Are?" that traces famous people's heritage. We have the same show.

I don't think it's just Americans. But uniquely Americans all have an immigrant story (except Native Americans I suppose).

I will agree that anyone who thinks they're related to someone famous or royalty through an obscure branch on their tree is fucking ridiculous and laughable.

by Anonymousreply 7010/07/2012

I think interest has increased since the online ancestry sites have sprung up. I read somewhere that one of the really big companies is Mormon owned. I know the Mormons collect ancestral information from around the world based on an obscure Bible or Book of Mormon verse. They have used some of this information in the posthumous baptism of people, most notably Polish Jews killed in the Holocaust.

by Anonymousreply 7110/07/2012

I know in the South they had a particular interest in ancestry in the past.

The reason is 1. They believed all success was determined be genetics 2. They fancied themselves aristocrats.

by Anonymousreply 7210/07/2012

It's all ethnocentric narcissism.

In America it is coupled with racism.

by Anonymousreply 7310/07/2012

R20, I must disagree with your point of view. Most Jews know if they're of Sephardic Ancestry or Ashkenazi. I've always known my great grandparents were born in Russia, near Shepatovka, because we've ALWAYS exchanged letters with our distant relatives. Yes during communism the communications were very generic but positive. Always we assumed the letters were screened.

by Anonymousreply 7410/07/2012

R70, My next-door-neighbors had their complete family tree recorded in their inherited Bible. Their ancestors were on the boat just after the Mayflower. As a child I saw paintings of their Royal Ancestry, one of whom had a disfigured hand like my neighbor. They didn't need to use questionable research tools to discover the truth.

by Anonymousreply 7510/07/2012

I agree that it is fueled by narcissism and is a silly pastime.

by Anonymousreply 7610/07/2012

Thank god OP will be forgotten about by his family 100 years from now.

OP obviously has some personal issues in regards to this subject.

Anyway, I sure hope OP doesn't have any Jewish or black friends. Wait, what am I talking about, OP has no friends.

America shouldn't celebrate its history either. Fuck the soldiers that fought for this country! Just forget about them.

Forget everyone.

by Anonymousreply 7710/07/2012

I came in a mayflower moving and storage facility. Does that count?

by Anonymousreply 7810/07/2012

[quote]Ancestry is only important to the snobs on the East Coast.


by Anonymousreply 7910/07/2012

OP was found in a bin at the GoodWill. Jealous, jealous.

When the E. Warren indian ancestry bullshit hit the fan, I understood perfectly.

My mother was given an old grainy copy of her family's earliest known photograph. In the group is her great grandmother - a gaunt woman with very sharp cheek bones, nose, and chin.

Based on this photo, my aunt pulled some indian tribe name out of her ass and told everyone about how the family is part Shawnfuckedapea indian or some shit like that.

The turquoise jewelry addiction followed. The responsibility for every alcoholic, gambler, and fuckwit is laid squarely upon the shoulders of this dead woman.

by Anonymousreply 8010/07/2012

I think it's very cool to trace one's ancestry. I've done as much as I can without spending money lol and in the future I plan on really delving into it.

WHat a lot of non-americans don't understand is that there is no "american ethnicity" as we're all different mixes from all over the world. It's fascinating to see all the different combinations.

by Anonymousreply 8110/07/2012

I think it can become an unhealthy obsession.

A way of validating ones' self through fictionalized imaginings of ones' ancestors.

What if you found out your great great grandfather was an asshole who murdered people?

I think it's lame.

by Anonymousreply 8203/22/2013

Another self-loather. Shocked. Everything we do is places in a negative light, no matter how innocuous or neutral it is. Why are Americans always breathing in air?!?! That's air that could go to 3rd-world children, or do they not deserve to suck in fresh air?? What's Americans' obsession with gardening??? Most people go to the grocery store to get their tomatoes, and on and on and fucking on. Why are you so fixated on good hygiene (this thread actually happened here and on another forum)?? Unfuckingbelievable. ENOUGH ALREADY.

by Anonymousreply 8303/22/2013

Besides the fact that I'm active on several DNA/Ancestry sites/forums and we have participants from across the world. Nice try with that lie. My Irish, East African, English, and Island (Caribbean) cousins/associates would disagree with your premise

by Anonymousreply 8403/22/2013

I am a descendent of Charlamagne. I am also a royal Ostrander and a Capron cousin. As my friend points out, even if you have a family history, that does not mean that your great great whatever was the actual sperm donor.

by Anonymousreply 8503/22/2013

R62, are you sure that Eleanor of Aquitaine's descent can be traced back to Constantine, and his to Cleopatra Selene? And even if this were possible, your ancestry wouldn't "end out" at Cleopatra Selene, since her ancestry is pretty well documented (do you know who her parents were, for example?).

by Anonymousreply 8603/22/2013

[quote] assuming because a great-great parent (or often a more distant relative) came from Italian, Ireland, England etc... you too are Italian, Irish, English.

My grandparents were from Ireland and I am now Irish. Ireland said so. They gave me free citizenship.

by Anonymousreply 8703/22/2013

But if your great-grandparents were from Ireland but your grandparents born in the USA, they wouldn't have done it. That's the "nationality fades" argument.

I have to say learning about my ancestors didn't make me feel closer to them, since their letters and things make them seem shallow and filled with all manner of prejudices. But I did have the horrible feeling that if they all came to life and we went to a Datalounge meetup, all of you pricks would have liked them better than you like me.

by Anonymousreply 8803/22/2013

It's interesting to trace back the migrations of one's ancestors. Mine came from Clew Bay in Co. Mayo to Cleveland in 1921, and on the paternal side from Bourges to a mission on the Western tip of the island of Montreal about 300 years earlier.

However fascinating the broad strokes of history and the hair-raising hardships these people endured, it's important to remember that a line of descent may have been broken at any time by a few-minutes' fling in the fields or behind the woodshed. You have to take all those parish records with a grain of salt. Adultery, premarital sex, rape...all kinds of untoward events could (and certainly did) make many unions that exist on paper fiction.

by Anonymousreply 8903/22/2013

It means nothing.

by Anonymousreply 9003/23/2013


How old are the letters and what did they say?

by Anonymousreply 9103/23/2013

I work at a special library for history and genealogy, I don't think it is about bragging rights, since the majority of immigrants came after the civil war, thus giving them nothing to really brag about. It is more about knowing where you came from, and that resonates more in America because, with the exception of Native Americans, we are all from somewhere else. Also, in response to an earlier poster, yes the mormons basically own the genealogy industry.

by Anonymousreply 9203/23/2013

Gay guy here, from Mobile, Alabama. My husband is an M. D. who got involved with research and extensive mtDNA and Y-DNA testing, and so did I. Over a few years I established unsurprising things about my dad's family: Scots and Germans who immigrated to the Carolinas in the late 1700s and late 1800s, respectively. I also verified what my mom's parents told me: They were Louisiana French Cajuns with French, Canadian Mi-kmaq tribal and African-American heritage. My husband, who is from Talladega was curious about his family's claim that he had a maternal great-grandmother who was a Creek Indian. Guess what? No X Haplogroup in his mtDNA but I happen to have a 67 degree marker match with current day Mi-kmaq men in Canada. It's an interesting hobby.

by Anonymousreply 9403/23/2013


by Anonymousreply 9503/23/2013

A couple of my relatives have done extensive genealogy research on my family. One thing it has done for me is to give me some perspective on my life. My great great grandfather experienced the Irish potato famine and became a civil war soldier when he came to the U.S. I can't imagine going through either one. My life is pretty easy compared to his and many of my other ancestors.

by Anonymousreply 9603/23/2013

This is an antisemetic, racist thread.

by Anonymousreply 9703/23/2013

People outside the US are mainly still in the countries their families were born in. America is a melting pot. Outsiders haven't experienced that. They're racist shits. Americans are mainly immigrants, and you should learn about your heritage. It explains a lot. People like OP prefer to live in ignorance.

by Anonymousreply 9803/23/2013

My family fought in the Revolutionary War, and one of my relatives became the president of the United States, one in 20th century. You can guess which one.

People shouldn't be forgotten. I'm sure many of them would be happy that anyone down the line was looking them up. My family had a ton of secrets. Genealogy exposed them, and it explained a lot.

Many illnesses are ethnic-related.

You poo poopers must find Jews irritating.

by Anonymousreply 9903/23/2013

Genealogy can be interesting, as R99 points out it can be medically relevant and a lot of people just enjoy the random weirdnesses it can throw up. The bit I don't get is when people think they've suddenly become special because they found out great-great-great-great grammy Maude got knocked up be a titled aristo.

I also don't get why some Americans call themselves Irish or Italian or Scottish or whatever American - what's wrong with just being American? If you weren't born in Ireland and your parents weren't born in Ireland you're not Irish. Or Scottish, or Italian whatever. Some of your family history may be from that country but you aren't. When you claim kinship with one nationality in your family history what do you do about the other nationalities? Are you Welsh-Swedish-German-Italian-Lakota-Costa Rican American?

by Anonymousreply 10003/23/2013

My mother, 89 years old, was recently asked by a sales clerk where she was from. My mom volunteered that she was 10th generation American, her ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and she announced how proud she was of that fact. Imagine my embarrassed dismay as I stared right at the Native American sales woman waiting on us. Sometimes I wish I could put a filter on my mom.

by Anonymousreply 10103/23/2013

I've been researching my ancestry recently and I'm German, Russian and Nez Perce Indian.

by Anonymousreply 10203/23/2013


by Anonymousreply 10303/24/2013

Europe was founded on history, America by philosophy.

by Anonymousreply 10403/24/2013

Actually untrue R104. America was noted for its secularism and pragmatism. The ideological obsessions were the product of World War II.

by Anonymousreply 10503/24/2013

Go back a bit further in your time machine sugar dumpling.

by Anonymousreply 10603/24/2013

I've wondered about this as well. Not because I find it odd that people are interested in where their ancestors came from (I'm interested, but not motivated to look that up myself), but because I find it odd that people describe themselves as x part German and y part Italian with a bit of English thrown in.

This also has nothing to do with my ancestors "living in the same place for 1000 years" because they didn't. Going back two generations you have two or three nationalities and it explodes if you go further back. Yet I would never consider describing myself as part German or part French because I have no cultural ties to those countries.

I find it pretty bizarre.

by Anonymousreply 10708/16/2013

r107, you've bumped a thread from 2010 just to complain, which makes you a total twat. Go to bed!

by Anonymousreply 10808/16/2013

Americans tend to be primitive and are obsessed with things like race and ancestry as you can see even on this chat board. The obsession is very bizarre but it's normal there.

by Anonymousreply 10908/18/2013

They just need to go to a school that teaches them not to brag!

by Anonymousreply 11001/21/2014

What is this dual nationality that so many Americans award themselves ? It would appear that the bulk of them consider themselves as being Scaaatish . Not only Scottish , but Scottish aristocracy. It seems that sometime in the 17th or 18th centuries the whole of the Scottish nobility emigrated across the pond.I have a couple of pieces of advice for solving this nationality problem. First if Scotland were playing the USA at football , sorry saaaaccer , what team would they support ? Secondly look at the front of your passport ; what does it say ? Now I must admit that if I were American , I would want to keep it quiet , but you are . DEAL WITH IT.

by Anonymousreply 11101/27/2015

R111, um, what?

I'm arithmetically challenged but I believe I've read if you have European heritage it's pretty much guaranteed you are a descendant of Charlemagne. That's because of collapsing ancestries. Going back 10 generations you have thousands of ancestors and they all came from the same gene pool so it's pretty much a mathematical certainty they are all related.

Of course, if you go back 50,000 years, an eyeblink in geological time, everyone on earth is African. That's why they have the most genetic variation of all peoples living. They were here the longest.

by Anonymousreply 11201/27/2015

It cracks me up how people pick and choose which ancestry they want to identify with. I had a friend who was of Irish, English, German and Polish extraction.

He identified only as Irish. IRISH. It was almost a way of life for him. He has gone back many many times to some cow hollow in Ireland that he insisted was his ancestral home -- because that's where the one Irish person in his lineage lived before he wisely fled for America.

He listens to Irish music, reads Irish newspapers. Did his graduate work on the Irish.

People who do this don't know how silly this is to the rest of us.

by Anonymousreply 11301/27/2015

I blame it on that stupid miniseries in the 1970s. Some uppity black man needed a few bucks, so he created a story about where he came from in Africa and now everyone wants their roots done.

by Anonymousreply 11401/27/2015

R113, so what if he chooses to identify with his Irish ancestry? How is that any skin off of your nose?

We all pick and choose an identity that is meaningful to us, unless we suffer from some disabling disorder that lets other people choose for us.

by Anonymousreply 11501/27/2015

It's just a hobby that involves going to libraries instead of Michaels.

by Anonymousreply 11601/27/2015

Lack of culture

by Anonymousreply 11701/27/2015

I spent a few years looking into my family history.

I'm kinda done with it now, but it was interesting to me. I was the youngest and a 80's kid, and missed time with grandparents and the like - by the time I was old enough to get a sense of what was going on, a lot of my family members were dead or scattered to the winds.

I learned a lot about both sides of my family, and about my parents. I'm glad I did it. My dad comes from a long line of crazy made me way for understanding about his quirks and oddities.

It really didn't change much on how I saw myself, other than I know now we aren't Native American (at least not in the last few generations) and we appear to have at least some Sub-Saharan African blood in us (in a small amount that suggests that ancestor was 10 or more generations ago).

by Anonymousreply 11801/27/2015

"It cracks me up how people pick and choose which ancestry they want to identify with."

I know exactly what you mean. It's like when a person has a white mother and a black father. When he's raised almost entirely by his white family but he goes all African-American like he's down with the struggle and oppressed because he's black.

by Anonymousreply 11901/27/2015

I am very interesting in all the people from whom I am descended and make up from. I have famous ancestors, yes, but I think it's insulting to say that we "brag" about such. What if it's just interesting to some of us and we share that?

Often times it is easier to know more about a famous person and what his or her life was like than an ancestor who served in the civil war and that is all we know about them - nothing of their personality, talents, or interests.

As for myself, I don't a have and never had a sense of family, being an only child where I was neglected emotionally and abused. I have no great extended family and so for me, studying my genealogy gives me a sense of belonging and a sense that I really did have a larger family behind me than I realize - that my genetic expression is not solely limited to my tiny upbrining.

Studying genealogy also gives me a sense of place far beyond my own genetics. I like to visit places where my ancestors are from - at least those 3-5 generations back. Sometimes I got to these places and feel a certain resonace that maybe comes on as a result of genetic material and recognition - or maybe it's all in my mind.

Either way, I enjoy learning about the many people and all the chance encounters that led to me even being here - the odds of it all is fascinating to me. And mostly, the multitude of stories and histories behind all that.

by Anonymousreply 12005/02/2015

P.S. Here's another thing to consider - that studying - really studying - your genealogy can and should force you to learn more about history and gain a personal connection to parts of it.

For instance, learning I had a great-great-great grandfather in the Civil War, ended up educating me on the fact that there were Civil War prison camps. This is something I had never even put much thought into, though I had an interest in the Civil War.

As a result, and after much research, I learned that my ancestor was a prisoner in Andersonville, which was considered the worst prison camp ever. And as a result of that, I learned more about the Civil War and how something like that even happened.

1/3 of the prisoners died there from disease and malnutrition. Many came out skeletonized, with their health being affected for years to come and/or dying at a young age later on.

It really struck me as very profound and awesome that if my ancestor had not made it home after that, had a couple of kids before dying at age 35 due to health issues related to his time there, I would not be here.

So to read all these terse comments that Americans are idiots for being interested in their ancestry really depresses me as to the lack of depth of imagination that goes on and expresses itself online.

And yes, I understand that people like to claim only what they consider the valuable parts of their ancestry and that is unfortunate because it's all valid and interesting.

As well, what most people don't realize is that no one can really say, "I'm half Scottish and a quarter this and that." If you get a real DNA test done (even though not completely acurate 100%), you learn about admixture between haplo-groups and cultures and genetic differentiation whereby you don't even get even half of what your mother has and half of what your father has. You may be getting some stuff from way back there...

by Anonymousreply 12105/02/2015


Why is it so difficult for Europeans to understand that when Americans say "I'm Irish" or "I'm German" that they mean: "I'm of Irish descent." We don't need to use the qualifier, "of descent" because everyone in the US knows what we are talking about, because most people (except natives) are from somewhere else.

Why Europeans insist on getting their knickers twisted over this, when clearly we mean "of descent" is beyond me. If some german came up to me while visiting the states and said cheerfully, "Hey, I'm American" I would understand they meant of descent and think it was nice. I believe Europeans know exactly what we mean but need to be cunty about it because they live for being cunty to Americans.

by Anonymousreply 12205/03/2015

R122, we think it's sad that you can't own your American nationality. Most Europeans can find that their ancestors have come from somewhere else too. Nationality is a lot to do with having been brought up in that country, with the language, customs, culture, food, and so on. So no, you are not Irish or Dutch. You are American.

by Anonymousreply 12305/03/2015

Stop being so anal, R123. Almost everyone describes themselves as whatever nation their ancestors came from. Not all the time but when discussing "what they are." It means nothing. It's as innocuous as saying what zodiac sign you are.

We do it more here in the US because we make a big deal of immigrants and being a "melting pot." We're also less nationalistic than, oh, say Germany.

by Anonymousreply 12405/03/2015

[quote] I have friends in other countries and they don't brag about Mayflower ancestors or being related to kings.

I don't know anybody who brags about these things

I have, however, seen a UK TV show which is all about tracing the ancestry of UK people.

by Anonymousreply 12505/03/2015

I came from my Mother's hoo ha. That's as far back as I care to learn.

by Anonymousreply 12605/03/2015

R124, we still don't see you as Irish, or Dutch. It's still American. Calling yourself a nationality you probably don't even have a passport for is a little bit offensive for natives. I can get 'Irish descent' but actual Irish is too much for someone born and bred American because you just don't 'get' the nuances of being Irish, the culture, the politics, just like I don't truly get the American experience because I just wasn't brought up there.

by Anonymousreply 12705/03/2015

OP, ask the people in Ukraine who speak Russian and whose families have lived there for generations if they are Ukrainian. They will tell you no, they are Russian. Ukrainians will also tell you those people are Russian and not Ukrainian.

Ask people in Cyprus if they are Greeks or turks.

Ask Croats in Bosnia if they are Bosnians. They may have been in a country for hundreds of years, but they consider themselves a different nationality.

I worked in a German restaurant. The German chef was married to a woman who came from Germany, spoke German, spoke English with a German accent, but would tell you she was Irish. Her name was something like Kathleen O'Malley. Her grandparents had emigrated to Germany.

It's not just Americans who identify their ethnicity by a country other than the country they are living in. Turks didn't consider Armenians living in Turkey to be Turks, did they? Germans and Austrians did not consider J.ews to be Germans or Austrian. Lots of Europeans do not consider generations of M.uslims living in their countries to be their nationality. The media will pretend that the French consider m.uslim Algerians to be French, but let them talk to you in private. They don't consider them French or Danes.

I don't know of a Pakistani here in America who doesn't send their child to Pakistan at least for summer, if not for schooling. They don't want their kids to be "too american." They consider their kids to be american by citizenship but not by culture.

by Anonymousreply 12805/03/2015

most of the ethnicity speak is to prove we are white. It's very typical American where to white is to be not black. I've never heard of anyone born in in the UK refer to themselves as being Fench/English because one of their parents were born in France. Even blacks in the UK rarely if ever refer to themselves as African Brits.

by Anonymousreply 12905/03/2015

Most of my interest in my Euro ancestry is learning why I'm not a European. I suspect this is the focus of interest for most Americans: which of the family stories about how our ancestors got here are true. An immigrant's story is always more interesting than that of some serf whose ancestors have been in the same 5 mile radius since the Neolithic.

by Anonymousreply 13005/03/2015

[quote] most of the ethnicity speak is to prove we are white

LOL! I have NEVER even heard anyone consider that. Being white is pretty evident upon a cursory observation

I swear some of you guys have to be taking a piss cause you cannot be serious.

R123/127 is "offended" - really? All I can say is get a life. Maybe you should be flattered that people want to be associated with your country. Maybe they are proud to be associated with it. But, nooo, you are offended.

An interest in where you and your ancestors come from shows a healthy interest in history and respect for your family. If people want to turn it into something negative that's their problem.

I suspect the OP and some others discovered their ancestor was a horse thief.

by Anonymousreply 13105/03/2015

My mother does this and it drives me crazy. Her immediate family was a bunch of low class losers. She was the only one who went to college. She has this compulsion to find out something NOBLE about her backwoods uneducated folks who are all deceased at this point.

She makes statements like, "we are of good hearty stock", "Uncle Joe was one of the founders of that town", "my great grandfather bought his wife the most beautiful engagement ring after he traveled all the way to New York City to purchase it."

She thinks she is royalty because her family has lived in the US for many, many years.

You know what? My mother has big issues regarding self esteem, wanting to appear better than she is and a sense of entitlement.

Yeah, I know. I try to see my mother as little as possible because I cannot stand hearing this drivel. I tried to say something about her constant bragging about these so called great relatives who were really just backwoods blue collar New England hillbillies but it falls on deaf ears.

Oh, and she won't ever discuss my gay life. I am still straight in her eyes. I am 58 years old.

by Anonymousreply 13205/03/2015

Why do you want to debase your mother's (and your own) ancestry so, r132? The statements you attribute to her don't sound terribly grand.

Did you ever think that maybe she's trying to make you proud of your own humble roots in spite of your trashing them?

by Anonymousreply 13305/03/2015

It is no surprise that every living person of European descent is related to royalty in some shape or form. It is all about social Darwinism. All the weak, unable to support themselves blood lines die off. Only the rich, historically, could weather the worst of times. We are all, in a sense, the children of survivors of horrible historical shit.

by Anonymousreply 13405/03/2015

It's a harmless hobby. I don't see the problem with it, for Pete's sake!

by Anonymousreply 13505/03/2015

My ancestors were artists. Most were t very good apparently, and we're also house painters, though two have work that survives to this day.

So, my ancestry work involves family, history, and art. It keeps me occupied.

by Anonymousreply 13605/03/2015

You're confused, 134. The peasantry most certainly did not die out. Wealth was no protection against tuberculosis, smallpox, etc. in bygone times. Have you been watching Fox?

The vast majority of us are proles, commoners. Always have been, always will.

by Anonymousreply 13705/03/2015

R126 wins the whole thread.

by Anonymousreply 13805/03/2015

My great grandmother lived to age 97 and often told us what she knew about the family lineage so it was interesting to work on it and learn how much of what she said was true.

There can also be benefits (e.g. college scholarships) if you're from the right lineage.

by Anonymousreply 13905/03/2015

[quote] I've never heard of anyone born in in the UK refer to themselves as being Fench/English

They will call themselves Scots or Welsh even though they're born in England.. Plus Europeans like to fight over parts of their countries. Yorkshiremen, Liverpudlians, Cornish ....who cares? It's a small island.

Don't get me started on Poles in Germany and Germans in Czechoslovakia. Hitler sent an army into Czechoslovakia because much of it was historically a German-language area that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire. Then, after WWII, Czechs threw the German speakers out, though they'd lived there for generations. What was that all about OP, if not ancestry?

People in Europe kill each other over ancestry. At least americans only look at genealogical trees and go, "Oh that's interesting," instead if engaging in ethnic cleansing. Obsessed with ancestry, indeed..

by Anonymousreply 14005/03/2015

R132, cherish your mother while you have her, annoying faults and all. It's better than the emptiness you feel when they're gone.

by Anonymousreply 14105/03/2015

[123] I am American. 100% American. I do own it - we are not saying we are Irish citizens or brought up in Ireland when we say "I'm Irish." When we say we're Irish, its shorthand for "of Irish descent". ITS SHORTHAND FOR IRISH DESCENT.

We are a nation of immigrants and it is interesting to us to see where we came from, its not sad at all.

Why is this so difficult to understand?

by Anonymousreply 14205/03/2015

I've never met an intelligent American who showed an interest in this. Or is it an interesting American who showed intelligence in this. Both apply

by Anonymousreply 14305/03/2015

I grew up in Massachusetts. We were not rich or even upper middle class, but relatives were so convinced that we were directly descended from the first woman to step foot on Plymouth Rock (oh yes) that my aunt's middle name is that woman's last name. They were obsessed about it.

My aunt is close to 80, so I'm guessing we didn't have the resources then to really know if it was true or not.

by Anonymousreply 14405/03/2015

Gore Vidal called it Reflected Glory.

by Anonymousreply 14505/03/2015

Immigration to this country was quite chaotic early on. Many families were torn a part and scattered. It's only natural to want to know about your heritage. BTW have you visited a thread about those inbred British Royals? No one's more obsessed about lineage than the Brits.

by Anonymousreply 14605/03/2015

I've never met a foreigner decrying American interest in genealogy who wasn't a stuck up prig with ten times the trashy stupid prejudices of any American.

by Anonymousreply 14705/04/2015

[quote]Gore Vidal called it Reflected Glory.

And if anyone ever knew about puffing himself up based on his relatives and personal connections, it was Gore Vidal

by Anonymousreply 14805/04/2015

R142, cause people like to be assholes and create drama. Welcome to DL.

by Anonymousreply 14905/04/2015

Two words:ethnic cleansing.

by Anonymousreply 15005/04/2015

I think it depends how long your family has been in the US. My grandparents were immigrants, so it made other countries and customs seem closer and comforting.

by Anonymousreply 15105/07/2015

In olden times, Americans bragged about being descended from alligators and bears, so this obsession with human ancestry is a step up.

by Anonymousreply 15205/09/2015
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