Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Welcome to the Barefoot Genealogist Blog. My name is Athena and I am The Barefoot Genealogist. The name comes from my love for the name "The Barefoot Contessa." There are two things by that name that have influenced different aspects of my life. First is the Humphrey Bogart/Ava Gardner movie by that name because it is all about those horrible/wonderful little realities of human nature. The second one is probably more familiar and that is the The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten and all her wonderful recipes that remind us of just how important food and the family meal is to what our children will remember about their childhood.

How do these relate to genealogy?

In the movie, all the realities of human nature come pouring out as the never quite satisfied character played by Ava Gardner wanders through her life, quite often barefoot, almost endlessly searching for that which she does not have. This is like me wandering through cemeteries, often barefoot, seeking that which I do not have, an understanding of who I am and from whence I came.
With regards to the cookbooks and Ina, The Barefoot Contessa, it has to do with the strongest memories of my childhood. Those are the memories of my grandmother's kitchen table and the family time we spent at that table while eating food prepared not just because we had to eat but because she loved to cook.

To me Family History is more than searching through dusty old records in even dustier old courthouses, online databases, indexed records, or even photographs and cemeteries. It is about understanding how the members of your family that you have had contact with such as parents and grandparents became the people that you knew. How did they develop the values and traditions that they taught to you? The answer to this question lies in finding them and studying the culture, history, political and religious events that shaped their history. That is the study of your Family History.

As a genealogist I can give you the names, dates, and places of where your family comes from but only you can discover your Family History.

Until you wander, often barefoot, through the cemeteries where your ancestors are buried, Watch a sunset from the land they farmed or the brownstone they retired to after work each day you have not discovered your family history. Until you can talk about these people as though you knew them personally you have not discovered the rich gift of knowing who you are by knowing who they were.

I invite you to take off your shoes and feel the soft grass of the pastures or the hard concrete of the city sidewalks that if they could speak could share volumes about who you are and from whence you came. I invite you understand the world in which your ancestors lived and walk in their footsteps. I invite you to openly embrace your Family History.