The Invisible History of the Human Race

Why does the world hate genealogists? Or, to rephrase, why are the masses of people around the world who are engaged in questions about their family’s past often dismissed by those who aren’t? When I started writing The Invisible History of the Human Race, a book about what gets passed down, I met many people who were deeply engaged in the very popular hobby, but there was a lot of negativity as well.


“Oh, it’s a real American thing,” one person observed. Others said it wasn’t “real history.” Critics with more existential concerns argued that even if you had access to this or that document from someone’s past, you could never determine from it what he or she was truly like.

The Guardian columnist Zoe Williams wrote that genealogy “conveys a silent prejudice that never has the guts to announce itself. Ferreting about for antecedents in parish records says, effectively: ‘I attach a certain value to having always come from Suffolk or wherever. Oh, no, no, no, I don’t mean being foreign is bad; I just mean it’s so much nicer not to be.'” Another journalist wrote about explaining to his teen daughter, a genealogy buff, —> Read More Here


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