Virus of Genealogy
Genealogy – We’re all brought into this world by our parents. From the first steps in our lives, we rush forward, to childhood, adolescence, adulthood. But how many of us look behind?
Life stages pass us by. Our first day of school. Our Bar or Bat Mitzvah. I remember waiting eagerly for my 18th birthday, for the threshold of adulthood.
As we rush forward, we’re generally not interested in our past. We get caught up with education and a career. Maybe we catch a glimpse of an old black-and-white photo while we clean up our grandmother’s room.
Or maybe one day your friend asks – “Where did your family come from?” Maybe it’s a question from your curious child, “What did your grandfather do for a living?” And these small questions lead to the search for an answer.
You might phone relatives, ask your mother and father, scan records or research at the library.
You may be satisfied with the scraps of information you find – or you might just catch the Virus of Genealogy.
And now I come to the point to explain the strange name of this article. Questions like these instilled a deepfounded curiosity within myself. I needed to find out more about the roots of my family. For me, genealogy is like a virus – and I had caught it bad, like a flu that I couldn’t shake. Many people live every day and don’t even ask themselves where they came from, where their family came from, the person they were named after, what were their ancestors’ profession?
Tracking down your Ancestors
Often, it can be difficult to find the answers to these questions. Especially in countries that were once called the Pale of Settlement – Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine and Russia. Borders move, names change–today’s Vilnius was once Vilna or Wilno, the town district of Telsiai was once Telz.
Names and surnames, the mingling of languages and dialects, also lend to confusion. Wars devastated Europe, libraries bombed, destructive fires swept through vital records. You’ll find that your genealogy isn’t always easy to uncover. But if you’re already sick with the virus, nothing can stop you.
You’ll spend all of your free time to find another small snippet of information. One more photo, one more name, one more date. Sometimes you think that you found everything possible, but inside, you’ll always feel that there are more things to clean the dust from.
After weeks, months or even years, your search will never cease. You will be sure you missed something, you’ll double-check or triple-check your research, and you will never give up.
In this search for genealogy, people travel great distances to the origin of their familial roots. You can walk the same cobblestone streets that your ancestors walked on. Jump into the same river they used to bathe in. Sometimes there is nothing physical left to see, but it can be enough to just breathe the air your ancestors breathed.
How to Make the Best of your Heritage Tour
Jerulita Travel specializes in heritage tours, tracking down your family roots. Many of our clients who requested our tailor-made heritage tours send us pixels of information they have, and we help them to put it into a more or less clear picture.
For Lithuania, we highly recommend applying for the vital records’ search in the Central Historical Archive.
Another major database is in the Central Archive of Lithuania.
We’ll often ask for these snippets in advance, as it’s always better to do as much research beforehand instead of last minute. If you come with something in your hands, it is much easier to find things on the spot. Early research is important to avoid mistakes or wasting time. Sometimes people go to the wrong country because they have misspelled the name of the Village or town.
Some people think that they can come to a place and find information in the local archives, but many times it is a kind of an illusion. You think that your guide can knock on the door and ask people in 2018 about somebody who lived there in 1920. In most of the cases, this isn’t realistic. But some miraculous coincidences did happen and we have met people who knew to tell about the relatives of my clients.
“There is no future without the past!” Said Napoleon, a subject on our tours in Vilnius. With Jerulita Travel, we know the importance of the past and try to help our clients track down as much about their family as possible.
What do you know about your family roots? Ask your family members, dive right in with the research. Take a step back in time and find out who you really are.