What Makes You Feel Connected?

I recently wrote a reply to a question raised on social media by my genealogy buddy Natalie Pithers from Genealogy Stories

At the time, like most of the things we write on social media, I wrote exactly what I felt at that moment in time, from the heart, but as I paused and stopped to think for a second, this really resonated with me, it actually stopped me in my tracks and made me think.

Since that moment, it’s been nagging at me and I have been continually drawn back to the answer that I gave to Natalie when she asked; “My ancestors inspire me to keep going and I love genealogy so much. What keeps you going?”

My reply to the question was:

“The feeling of “connection”, connection to ancestors past, connections to living family now, connection to new cousins, connection to “Genie” friends and colleagues and the feeling of being ‘part of something’ if that makes sense.”

Now we all research our family trees for a variety of reasons and there is no ‘one size fits all’, but this answer that I gave made me really think about, not necessarily why I started researching my family tree, but more about why I continue to research and why it has become both a passion and an obsession of mine and probably yours too. I want to feel ‘part of something’, I want to feel part of a bigger picture and have a greater sense of who I am, that comes from knowing who my ancestors were, where they came from and what their lives were like. How can I possibly know who I am, if I don’t know where I came from?

It’s the collective feeling of being a part of things that inspires me to continue to write and to continue to research. Feeling connected to my ancestors is just one part of that. Feeling a part of a ‘Genealogy Community”, with shared ideas, similar goals and aspirations and shared stories gives you a sense of ‘belonging’.

Within this sense of ‘belonging’, although it’s central and fundamental to everything that I do, is my own family tree and this is just one part of that connection process. It’s by collaborating, sharing and educating that we feel part of a much bigger community and feel part of a much larger picture.

Sometimes we feel an unexpected connection to something or someone, as family historians I am sure that we have all felt that “sixth sense” or Deja-Vu moment when visiting a place for the first time. When I first visited Dublin, I instantly felt a powerful ‘connection’ and sense of ‘belonging’, I later discovered that my Daniels family were from Dublin, is that ancestral memory or coincidence?

Sometimes we get drawn to an ancestor for some unknown reason, someone that piques your interest or draws you in, for a reason that you can’t always explain, you just feel ‘connected’ to that ancestor, and it’s hard to explain, I am sure that you have all experienced something similar.

Connection comes in many shapes and forms, belonging to your own nuclear family is the first connection we make and obviously one of the most important. After that we have an extended family, some close, some much further afield. Add into the mix your friends and colleagues and our sense of connections becomes much wider. You can widen that even further with social media and hobbies such as family history can make you feel connected to a whole new community.


I look at it like this, I might come from a small town, but that’s part of a wider district, which is part of the County, which again is part of England, the United Kingdom, Europe and the World, I am just a tiny fragment of all of that, but the connection we make from researching our trees, chatting online, meeting at genealogy shows, makes the whole world a much smaller place.

What makes you feel connected?


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19 thoughts on “What Makes You Feel Connected?

  1. If asked the question, I’m sure my response would be similar to yours. The reason it interest me is based on the whole concept of my blog which is Sankofa. A term from Ghana meaning go back and get it(basically). The image of the Sankofa bird w/ it’s head looking back, but feet facing forward, hence us reaching back into the past learning from our ancestors in order to move forward in life for future generations. I’ve learned so much, ultimately getting to know myself better. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I first learned about it in college as an Umoja student ( studies based around black history). At age 20 during a trip to Arkansas, I visited our family cemetery & seeing the tiny markers dating back to the 1700’s peaked my curiosity. Such a blessing to have witnessed that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicely put! My research has made me feel more connected to broader history. History didn’t happen just to “famous dead guys”–my ancestors and relatives were impacted one way or another by all the “bigger picture” events going on. It’s easy to ignore that until we think about WHY someone moved, or why there are military records for someone.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am happiest when I find social context or stories that help me understand my ancestors. And, Paul, I felt a connection in Dublin and Ireland too. The only problem is I haven’t found that Irish ancestor yet. Thanks for sharing what makes you feel connected.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Tonya for sharing your story with me, I am sure that with a little patience and a little slice of luck you will get there. Beilieve it or not, my breakthrough came from find an obituary online from a funeral directors that led me to find my living family in Dublin! You never know when and how the breakthrough will come.


  3. This is a lovely post, Paul. That feeling of connection is central for me too. There was so much moving about in my childhood and for generations in my family, so connecting to both people and places is important to me. And I totally agree about those moments when there’s a special jolt of kinship with a particular ancestor or attachment to a location. And the community of likeminded friends is special too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a beautiful piece, Paul. I love making connections to many different stories and events in history, and to other researchers and distant cousins. But the bigger picture, as you say, is the sense of us all being connected to past and present lives around the world, which I find moving and uplifting. It’s really all one global family tree, and we all share the same core life experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Paul, I agree – connection is integral for Essential Genealogists

    My daily reading ritual includes connecting with the genie network through social media, your blog posts and tweets feature in those frequently. My weekly tasks include connecting the dots to discover details of lives from the past! It is these connections that give me a sense of belonging to a much larger family and community.
    Each month I focus on new ways to connect with those who are learning the how to’s of family history research and storytelling; and include them in the courses in my Preserving Family History academy.
    Connection is key for me personally when I write my ancestral stories, building a bridge between then and now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Carole for sharing with me the ways in which you make connections with the genealogy community. Connecting with others is a fundamental requirement in humans, we are social animals, so whether we make connections with family, friends, work colleagues, or just social gatherings (if we can of course!), it’s something that we all need. Technology now makes connections so much more accessible to all of us and in these uncertain times, connecting via Skype, zoom etc brings us a little closer together.

      Liked by 1 person

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