I was asked today what is the difference between a genealogist and a family historian? Today was the first time I actually thought about it. I have always considered myself a family historian because I want to learn more than names and dates, and my goal is to learn about as many people as I can not just the people who are on my family tree. And my research has helped me to learn about the communities that my family lived in. All of those components are what my research is about.
I must admit I had to look up the definition of both to see what the real difference is. Genealogy is defined as the study of a person’s ancestry or lineage. Family history is defined as an extension of genealogy in which the life and times of the people concerned are investigated. So I guess the real difference is that family historians dig a little deeper into genealogy, or at least that’s how I define it. But ultimately the terminology really doesn’t matter at least to me anyway. Because through this journey I have been a genealogist, a family historian, an investigator, a reporter, an analyst, a writer, and a natural observer. I have had to wear many hats to get as far as I have in my research.
What was my answer today when asked the difference in genealogy and family history? I simply told the truth about what my research means to me. I research my family history and that includes where my family lived, where they went to school, what organizations they were a part of, and what church they attended. I research by using vital records, census reports, school records, cemetery records, and church records. But I also talk to my relatives, their friends, neighbors, and associates to get a bigger picture of their lives. So I will continue to refer to myself as a family historian. And this is why my journey will continue….