This week’s post doesn’t focus on a specific relative but instead considers the concept of what actually constitutes a “relative”. Who do we include in our family tree?
I get periodic emails from Geni.com updating me about the progress other people have made on “our” family tree. Usually I pay them little attention as most updates concern some obscure collateral relative. Today’s email caught my eye. According to Geni.com my fifth cousin, Mark Alan Goldsmith, is related to Albert Einstein. Hey! Wait a minute! If my relative is related to Einstein, then it stands to reason I am too.
I logged on to my Geni.com account, then clicked on the name “Albert Einstein” in the email message.
Within minutes I received an email from Geni.com.
If you read my post from last week, you know that I was fairly disappointed to find I am related to the famous producer, Sheldon Leonard only by marriage. I thought, “Yes! Another chance to prove a relationship with someone famous.”
Here’s how Albert Einstein and I are connected:
So…is Einstein a relative? What, exactly, constitutes a relative? The convoluted connection above seems a bit of a stretch to me. (So the search for the “famous relative” continues.)
When I started working in earnest on our genealogy in 2007, I had to decide “who” I would include in my research. My family, like many today, is a blended family. My father married four times (having a daughter with wife #2), my mother twice, (adding a son to her four daughters from marriage #1.) I married a man whose father had remarried a woman with children of her own. My father and his third wife adopted children. There are adopted children in my husband’s family. My stepfather’s family treated my mother’s children from her first marriage no differently than the child she had with him. I remember having a conversation with my father, whose so-called “facts” actually started me on this journey, telling him we didn’t have a family tree, we had a “bramble bush”!
Quoting Richard David Bach, “”The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof. “
There really was no decision to make. I decided to include everyone. Perhaps that decision gives some genealogists “the shakes.” But, researching my “pedigree” is not my goal – I’m not attempting to prove my lineage for admission into the Daughters of the American Revolution – although I think my kids could through my husband’s family!
I am researching our “family history.” That includes all three of the children adopted by my father. That includes the stepmother who was so loved by my husband’s ancestors, they used her last name as middle names of their children for four generations. That includes my stepfather’s mother who was shorter than me (and at 4’9” that’s pretty short), prompting people to comment that now they see where I get my shortness.
While not everyone may be a “relative” in the strictest sense of the word, they are all part of my family. They are all part of the story.