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Learning More About Family History and Culture

Wow!  This course, Demystifying Culture & Folklore started off with a bang.  Lots of information and a page turner to boot.  It’s hard to believe that I am even more excited now than I was before the first day started.  However, if you remember my introduction post to this course, I am a self-confessed myth and folklore geek.

Mother And Son Reading A Book . Image courtesy of /

What I liked, and I didn’t get from the undergrad courses I took, is that this is firmly family centered.  How we take those standard terms, throes, and ideas then turn the magnifying glass on ourselves and our family, not another culture.  Well, I guess in some ways we are doing that too since many of us are descendants of immigrants.

From the beginning we were told to examine our family and explore our roots to see:

(c) 2014 The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

That was a big task, a daunting task some would say.  Honestly it takes a lot of guts to really analyze your family and come to an understanding about what they did and why they did it.

Thankfully the instructor, professional genealogist and folklorist Jean Wilcox Hibben, does not throw you into the deep end.  Each section began with a list of terms and their definitions.  Terms which lead to discussion and understanding of how everything from material goods, unspoken customs, and assumptions affected the lives of our ancestors.

The exercises in these modules worked in conjunction with the new terms I read as well.  Instead of thinking about long dead civilizations and what their symbols meant I found myself dissecting what I knew about my own family.  That was difficult, more difficult than I anticipated.  Fun and educational, but difficult.

I was surprised about what I could pull out of my memories.  The nuances in the way a story was told.  The unwritten norms and mores that I was indoctrinated with as a child.  Plus, how the word sub-culture really isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, I think I count eight sub-cultures that I belong to!

The next two modules should be even more fun as we learn about cultural assimilation and family folklore.

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