36 Genealogy Quotes About Family History and Ancestry

Quotes are a great way to experience the world through others. In this article, we have a collection of quotes about family trees, history, and genealogy for you to enjoy.

When you are the family historian or genealogist, you may find yourself wanting to share quotes that display your love of studying your ancestry. Whether you want the quotes to share on social media, or maybe to feature in a slideshow or scrapbook, you will find exactly what you are looking for on this list.

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Inspiring Ancestry Quotes

Here are some of the best quotes about family trees and history, some of which are happy, others may be sad, just like the reality of studying genealogy.

“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.”― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“In your name, the family name is at last because it's the family name that lasts.”― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words

“... the pursuit of origins is a way of rescuing territory from death and oblivion, a reconquest that ought to be patient, devoted, relentless and faithful.”― Amin Maalouf, Orígenes

“All of our ancestors give us the precious gift of life. Do we use it wisely? Do we use it well? Do we make a name for ourselves and for our children of which we can be proud?”― Laurence Overmire, A Revolutionary American Family: The McDonalds of Somerset County, New Jersey

“How can we know where we are going if we don’t know where we came from?”― Becky Williamson-Martin

“How many stories are there that have been lived, but will never be told? Far too many for me to squander the one that I’m living.”― Craig D. Lounsbrough

“The family historian must master the art of storytelling. What, after all, is truth without anecdote, history without events, explanation without narration--or yet life itself without a story? Stories are not just the wells from which we drink most deeply but at the same time the golden threads that hold and bind--Ariadne's precious string that leads us through the labyrinth that connects living present and the living past.”― Joseph A. Amato, Jacob's Well: A Case for Rethinking Family History

“Wars, plagues, names upon tombs tell us only what happened. But history lies in the cracks in between. In the inexplicable, invisible turns and decisions. A person saying no instead of yes. …It is not that they had lived…but how.”― Sarah Blake, The Guest Book

“Genealogists: they're just grad students without the Pell Grant funding or a degree waiting for them at the end.”― Buzzy Jackson, Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist

“I was once again struck by the key to genealogy: stick-to-itiveness. Yes, it takes creative thinking and knowledge of available resources, etc., but basically it takes a willingness to just keep at it and never give up. Being an optimistic idiot helps.”― Buzzy Jackson, Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist

“DNA opens an even more mysterious door to understanding the human condition: all of our ancestors live within each one of us whether we are aware of it or not.”― Laurence Overmire, The One Idea That Saves The World: A Message of Hope in a Time of Crisis

“Every generation adds another link to the chain that we call history.”― David J. Forsyth, Alice and The Machine Gunner

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”--George Bernard Shaw

"Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you." — Mark Twain

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness." — Alex Haley, Roots

"Those who forget their past are destined to repeat it." — Robert A. Heinlein

"Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors." — Edmund Burke

"Everyone has ancestors and it is only a question of going back far enough to find a good one." — Howard Kenneth Nixon

"He who has no fools, knaves, or beggars in his family was begot by a flash of lightning."— Old English proverb

"There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his."— Helen Keller

"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future."— Gail Lumet Buckley

"Genealogy" Tracing yourself back to people better than you are."— John Garland Pollard

"If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree." — Michael Crichton

"We inherit from our ancestors gifts so often taken for granted. Each of us contains within this inheritance of soul. We are links between the ages, containing past and present expectations, sacred memories and future promise." — Edward Sellner

“If you are lucky enough to be a genealogist, you are lucky enough.”—Ruth Padilla

“Friends come and go, but relatives tend to accumulate.”—Unknown

“Genealogy: Where you confuse the dead and irritate the living.”—Unknown

“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.”—Wernher von Braun

“We need to haunt the house of history and listen anew to the ancestors wisdom.”—Maya Angelou

“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.”—Chinese Proverb

“Some family trees have beautiful leaves, and some have just a bunch of nuts. Remember, it is the nuts that make the tree worth shaking.”—Unknown

“If we tried to since the past beneath out feet, be sure the future would not stand.”—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Most of our ancestors were not perfect ladies and gentlemen. The majority of them weren’t even mammals.”—Robert Anton Wilson

“The thing that interests me most about family history is the gap between the things we think we know about our families and the realities.”—Jeremy Hardy

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.”—Hodding Carter

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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