October is Family History Month. In 2001, Congress first passed a resolution introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who wrote, “By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family.” Although, in recent years, Presidential proclamations have not been forthcoming, family history enthusiasts continue to celebrate Family History Month every October.
We all have a history that extends far back beyond ourselves. Each ancestor we have has left their mark on us and has helped in the formation of the traditions and culture within our lives. Our family history tells us who we are and where we come from. Family history has always been held in high regard and in the medieval ages, one’s lineage was so important that texts were created tracing the lineage of every noble person and family crests were designed.
While it’s good to know where we came from, our genealogy is even more important than just knowing our origins. In recent years it’s become important for reasons beyond tracking your family line as many conditions and diseases have been discovered to be congenital, meaning that they pass from mother or father to child. Tracking your family history means that doctors can keep an eye out for these conditions during your visits, and may be able to prevent or slow their progress as you age.
While COVID-19 has curtailed many of the activities we would normally pursue during Family History Month such as visiting libraries and archives and attending genealogical society meetings and conferences, there are some activities you can do at home with your family and virtually on the Internet. If you’re not already involved, this would be a good time to start your family history research by using resources such as FamilySearch.org and other free sites to download pedigree charts to begin recording your family tree. Search your home for documents such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, and family photos.
Record your family stories to share with relatives, call an older relative, and record your interview them about your family’s history. Another resource that is often overlooked are the Family Group pages on Facebook. Many universities and public library archives, museums, genealogical and historical societies, businesses, federal, state, and local government agencies, and other sources are available on the Internet. Some local archives located at The University of Texas-Pan American Library; The University of Texas at Brownsville Library; The Brownsville Historical Association; Harlingen Public Library and the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum to name just a few may not yet be open to the public. Please contact the particular archive before planning a visit to learn about their status. If you’re not already a member of the Tip O’ Texas Genealogical Society or the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Genealogical Society, now’s the time to join!
The Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum and the Rio Grande Valley Museum Association, 2425 Boxwood St., Harlingen, invite you to visit the Day of the Dead/Dia de Los Muertos altar exhibit currently on display. These beautiful and unique altars have been created by different families and organizations to remember their family and friends who have passed on. The exhibit can be viewed during regular museum hours, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is free and all COVID-19 precautions are being observed. For more information visit the museum’s Facebook page or call 956-216-4901.
The RGV Byliners, a local writers group, and the Harlingen Public Library will host the monthly Poetry Night virtually on Tuesday, October 20 from 6-7:30 p.m. Contact Valley Byliners for ZOOM Link at: https://rgvbylinersocialme.wixsite.com/mysite-1/contact-valley-byliners.
Due to popular demand, the Texas State Genealogical Society has extended early bird registration through midnight, October 20 for the 2020 Texas State Genealogical Society’s Annual Family History Conference and its 60th Anniversary, TxSGS Live!, November 13-14. Take advantage of discounted package prices for this year’s virtual with keynote speaker, noted genealogist and lecturer, Judy G. Russell and eight other speakers will provide lectures designed for all skill levels. There will be research opportunities and insightful family history sessions and a virtual expo. Visit https://www.txsgs.org/2020-conference/txsgs-live/ for more information on speakers/ topics and registration packages.