Exploring Your Family History

By Janice K. Wright (JK Wrights 2U), alumna, Center for Distance Learning

November 22, 2011

What’s in a surname? Where did your family’s last name derive from? Who were your ancestors? Who are you? Are you and your family members in a good place, with solid bonds? Have you ever wondered about or wanted to investigate your family’s diaspora? 

“A diaspora (from Greek διασπορ?, ‘scattering, dispersion’) is the movement, migration or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland; or people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location; or people settled far from their ancestral homelands." The word has come to refer to historical mass dispersions of people with common roots, particularly movements of an involuntary nature, such as the forced removal of Turkish Armenians, the African Trans-Atlantic slave trade or the century-long exile of the Messenians under Spartan rule.”

Many family ties in history have been broken by forces beyond the family’s control. With the family’s structure destroyed, many have never been able to be reconnected. Therefore, with family in our midst, it is important to realize family ties are essential. The supportive network is needed; it must be respected and appreciated. We must all be mindful never to take our “blessings” (family members) for granted. Once a loved one passes or if a loved one relocates it is a true loss. 

Family History Month, a time to celebrate your family and discover the past. Discovering family histories is one of America’s favorite and most enriching hobbies. It’s a powerful way to connect with your roots while preserving your own family’s memories for future generations.

For the last 10 years in October, millions of individuals across the United States have been celebrating Family History Month. This all began with a resolution on September 12, 2001, which was introduced to the house by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch to designate October as Family History Month.