I may choose to ignore people who comment anonymously. I choose never to be anonymous online myself. I have little tolerance for this behavior.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are?

Having grown up in Mormondom I was used to asking people about their heritage and getting a quick answer. I could give a quick answer too, "English and Scandinavian." But, when I left Mormondon these simple questions produced very different results.

I once asked a black fellow student what his heritage was. He said, "Well, my Daddy was an Alabaman and his Daddy was an Alabaman but we're pretty white-skinned so there's a white man back there somewhere." At this point in his response I wanted to crawl into a hole.

Having not learned my lesson from this experience I posed a question to one of my students at a school I worked at. I was puzzled by him because I could not pin anything down with any confidence. He could be part black, native American, possibly from the Philippines, Polynesian, likely Fijian, Indian, Hispanic or others. I was genuinely perplexed. His quick answer floored me -- Hungarian Gypsy.

There are a lot of surprises out there even when we think we know who we are. Recent research suggests Joseph Smith was actually Irish. Tracing family history is a popular activity. My Church offers the extensive Family Search web site to help you discover who you are.

This posting's title comes from a recent news article on efforts in California to introduce people to these resources and what my Church has to offer. A booth at a Morgan Hill festival was entitled, "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Additional resources, not on Family Search, may be available at a local Family History Center that are located around the world. I once heard that eighty percent of the people that use these facilities are NOT Mormon so no one should feel shy about utilizing them. This statistic was before computers became ubiquitous so the percentage may have risen.

Also, states and communities often buy resources for their citizens and patrons usually through the State Library. These are underutilized resources. They often provide databases like Heritage Quest for free. Most states I've researched do. Kansas is one of them. Contact your local library to learn how to gain access.

Perhaps who you think you are may not be who you really are. Why not find out?

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