For years I’ve been declaring that I would spend some of my retirement time in serious genealogical research. The impetus to action came earlier this summer, when my sister found a packet of photo negatives and shared the resulting images with others in the family. Though I already have a fairly substantial collection of old family photos, these were mostly pictures that I had never seen before. We could put names to some of the faces; others remain a total mystery. In that initial search for identities, I found the spark that moved my long-intended project into concrete action.
This process of searching for ancestors has led me to reflect on our awareness of place and generations. It is said that the U. S. is a nation of immigrants, and for the most part this is true. When we only have to look back two or three generations to find an ancestor who came from another country, we simply haven’t had the opportunity to establish a long connection to the land on which we now live. Our highly mobile society also works against our having a sense of belonging to a particular place.