Monday, June 11, 2007

The Well-Rounded Genealogist

I often write about how "No Genealogist is an Island." I was reminded of this fact again this weekend. I was invited to present a paper on a panel at the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. The panel brings together artists, scientists, scholars, and writers of Czech and Slovak background for two days of lectures and discussion.

While researching our roots it is so easy to get caught up in searching online databases, reading microfilm or perusing old documents for names, dates and places. Yes, this is the backbone of genealogy, but it isn't the only aspect. It is so easy to overlook the cultural influences of our ethnic backgrounds. We focus on the who, what and where, but may have a tendency to skip the "why?"

My talk was on "Czech and Slovak Chain Migration in the United States and its Importance in Family History Research." Many of the other presentations had more of an academic focus. I was quite impressed by the scope of knowledge of the many speakers and I learned a great deal about the historical background of Austria-Hungary where my Slovak ancestors lived, about the languages, and about the relationship between the Czechs and Slovaks. It has given me yet another new perspective to consider as I continue to discover my family history. It was a nice change of pace from other conferences I have attended, and for me just as essential as those meetings which focus solely on how to do genealogical research. I think it is important to remember that as researchers we are part of a much bigger puzzle than just the section that represents our own individual family trees.

Thank you to those who organized the 2007 SVU Conference. It was an honor to be included in the company of such distinguished scholars. The 2008 World Congress of SVU is slated for September 2008 in Ruzomberok, Slovakia (details forthcoming) and I hope to be able to attend!

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