Today is Thankful Thursday, and today I'm thankful for Banned Books Week. What does that have to do with genealogy, you might ask? Well, besides my love for genealogy, I have a great love of reading - I am a voracious reader, a loud-and-proud bibliophile. But I don't just love books, I love to read anything I can get my hands on - magazines, newspapers, probate records, family histories, land deeds...you see where this is going?
I don't think you can be a serious family historian without being a reader as well...so much of tracing your heritage is reading primary and secondary documents - vital records, first- and second-hand accounts of personal experiences during moments in history, wills, family letters, obituaries, newspaper articles, etc. If you don't like to read, you're not going to last very long as a family history hobbyist or enthusiast.
And on top of that, if you want to really understand the times and places in which your ancestors lived, it doesn't hurt to have read about those times and places, either in novel or non-fiction form. You know, in books. So today we talk about Banned Books Week, which is this week. This year Banned Books Week focuses on celebrating diversity in writing, diversity that others often try to suppress as being subversive, amoral or against the norm. Diversity in thoughts, ideas, and creativity is okay. Don't agree with what someone's writing? Great! You've just learned to form your own opinion. It's by learning about others' perspectives that we learn to understand them and where they're coming from, even if we don't agree with it...and so much of genealogy is about learning to understand ourselves and where we came from, so it kind of goes hand-in-hand. Nothing terrible ever happened in this world through the respectful exchange and discussion of ideas...but a lot of terrible things have happened because of censorship. So today I'm thankful for all the banned or challenged books that I enjoyed as a child and an adult, from contemporary ones to classics (yes, books have been challenged and banned as long as they've been published and circulated...which ones do you think your ancestors enjoyed reading??), I'm thankful for my love of reading, and I'm thankful that I can take that love of reading and apply it to another area I love, family history.
For more on Banned Books Week, visit here.
For a list of the most challenged books in the United States, visit here.