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Twigs & Trees with Rhonda: October Named Family History Month
by Rhonda R. McClure

October 11, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

While our lives are defined right now by the news on the television, most of it having to do with war, it is nice to hear of something from before that fateful September day that has not been completely altered.

Before September 11th, the genealogical community was striving to get Congress to pass a bill naming October as Family History Month. Somehow in the sea of upheaval the announcement that it had indeed been passed made it all the sweeter.

Family history has its own month now.

The Official Announcement

By unanimous consent, the Senate today approved legislation introduced by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch to designate October as "Family History Month."

"Millions of Americans are researching the history of their families," said the Utah Republican. "Experts say that in the United States, genealogy is now the second most popular hobby next to gardening. It is believed that more that 80 million Americans are currently actively searching for more information about their ancestors.

"It is only natural that we want to find out more about our ancestors," Hatch continued. "What better way to bring families closer together than by discovering more about the story of their own family? Like it or not, who we are today is in large part, a product of our ancestors."

Hatch's bill (S.R. 160), which was co-sponsored by Robert Bennett (R-Utah), commemorates October as Family History Month and encourages President Bush to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe the month of October with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

"With the advent of the Internet, there has been an explosion of interest in family history," Hatch continued. "Last month alone, more than 14 million Americans used the Internet to research their family history. Genealogy Internet sites are some of the most popular sites on the World Wide Web. My church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has family history information on nearly 500 million individuals on its family history web site (www.familysearch.com)."

"Essentially, we are all immigrants to this country. Our ancestors came from different parts of the globe," Hatch said. "By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family."

S.R. 160 had 84 co-sponsors and was approved by unanimous consent.

"Researching ancestry is a very important component of identity. It can lead to long-sought-after family reunions or allow for life saving medical treatments that only genetic links will allow," Hatch said. "For all of these reasons, I encourage people across this nation to find out more about where they came from."

In Conclusion

In our present world of change, ancestry and the researching of our lineage is still a constant, unchanging thing. And now we have a month set aside to recognize the popularity of the hobby.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at rhondagen@thegenealogist.com.

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