Historical Development
Genealogy: historical development PDF Print E-mail

Still today, kingdoms are hereditary, class or caste limits are being manifested, vacant positions are passed on within the family and in most cases, this is excused with genealogy.

But genealogy is not only important for rulers, but transforms into a daily free time hobby for many people.


Sources of genealogy


Family trees and ancestor lists are among the first forms of historiography of almost all cultures.

In ancient Egypt, as well as the Maya tried to legitimize their ruler’s power with their pedigree of powerful kings, commanders and gods. Accordingly, the correct depiction of the historical truth was less in the focus than the reaching of goals.

Well-known examples are the family trees of Jesus Christ in the Gospel according to Luke and Matthew, who constructed two very different family trees to depict Christ as an offspring of Abraham/Adam.


Genealogical research in medieval times

Until the 19th century genealogy was limited to nobility and rich bourgeois families.

Old book on genealogy

In medieval times, the origin of a surname was of great importance for the achievement of power and positions: For example, if you wanted to apply for a post or take part in a joust you had to prove your noble pedigree. Genealogy at that time completely served a society that was separated by social groups.

In the 17th century, along with the rising wealth and influence of the bourgeoisie, genealogy turned to a broader public. In addition to that, the scientific criteria gained importance and genealogy became a subject at the universities. In 1788, “Abriss der Genealogie” was published by the historian Johann Christoph Gatterer. It included the first systematic presentation of genealogy.

Computers offer new perspectives

Recent impulses came from all over Europe and from the US, where family research became a wide-spread hobby.

The Genealogic Society of Utah set a milestone with the first use of computers in genealogy and took a leading role internationally.

The Genealogical Society in Utah

As a result of the extremely risen distribution of the internet since 1994 genealogy received a noticeable boom. Contacts between researchers now can be made worldwide and quickly and many data bases with millions of genealogical tables are accessible for research online.

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