Why you need to know your family histories

This week, we posted up an inspirational quote on our Twitter account – knowing just three stories about your family’s past helps you cope with stress.  Here at Finders and based on our years of experience of working in probate genealogy (or heir hunting as modern parlance has it) we have several theories about why this is true so let’s expand on them here…Stress is one of those words that is used a lot in modern life – and it’s no surprise really. Our working lives are really busy (in full-time employment, Brits work an average of 42.7 hours a week, amongst the highest in Europe), we live in an age where we are bombarded with information and assaulted by advertising and marketing messages every single day which urge us to spend more money than we really have on things we don’t really need.

Caring Responsibilities

Another factor for stress in people’s lives can be family caring responsibilities. With an ageing population, many people in their 40s and 50s can find themselves saddled with the responsibility of caring for ageing parents to cope with gaps in adult social care, as well looking after their own families AND working. Unpaid caring is a tough and under appreciated role.

Phew… No wonder. some 13.3 million working days a year are thought to be lost due to people suffering from stress, depression and anxiety.

So where does knowing about your family’s history come in?

Fascinating Families

Finders uncovers all kinds of fascinating family histories when we embark on our work to search out missing beneficiaries to an estate or trace next of kin and we often are able to share information about their families with people.

On the majority of occasions, we have found that this news is very cheering. If you are someone whose life is stressful, then there is no doubt that news of an inheritance can definitely help, perhaps with bills or the mortgage for example, but on another level finding out about your great-grandfather’s life may also provide stress relief?

Knowing what other generations went through and how they survived great privation – world wars, flu epidemics etc – can sometimes put our own everyday struggles in a different light. And it is always good to know that your family has always managed to survive and continue. There is a thread of history that weaves its way down to you, connecting you to the past, the present and the future.

Coping with Stress

An outside interest is always a great way of coping with stress. Our work to piece together accurate family trees often triggers further interest in family history. We can present those that we work with with an accurate family tree, which may inspire further research into ancestors and the era in which they lived.

Perhaps, for example, we tell you about your great-great-grandmother who lived in the early Edwardian era and who was a proud Suffragette – might that not trigger a desire to investigate the fight for women’s votes?

Or maybe, just as one of the episodes of BBC Heir Hunters documented in the last series, you discover that a relative once worked as a chimney sweep and that leads you to the forgotten worlds of Victorian London?

One final reason knowing family history is worthwhile is that it can provide a bond between old and young. Encouraging grandmothers, grandfathers, great-aunts and others to share stories of their youth with you can be a very rewarding experience. Sitting down and sharing a cup of tea with someone whilst you look through old photos and newspaper articles and encourage the exchange of information is very worthwhile.

Who knows what you will find out?

#BBC #HeirHunters #Finders

Daniel Curran
Written by Daniel Curran
Daniel is a leading figure in the UK Heir Hunting industry. He is from Isleworth in West London and has lived in London for most of his life. He has been in the probate genealogy profession since 1990. He formed Finders in 1997 after 7 years at another firm.