24 May 2007

India: Genealogy increasingly popular

From The Hindu, billed as India's national newspaper, comes this account of genealogy's rising popularity in Kerala.

The story stresses exactly what I have always believed, "that writing family history cuts across communities."

The Kerala Council for Historical Research is the focus. An autonomous research center of the University of Kerala, it "explores the cultural potential of the discipline and attempts to enrich the historical consciousness of society." Its large library has a significant Kerala history and society collection.

"At present, there is an increasing urge especially among people settled outside the country to search for their ancestral roots," said P.J. Cherian, director, KCHR. "They often request their relatives living in the country to take up the task," he said.

Cherian says that most of the researchers are untrained, but are often extremely dedicated, putting in to 10 years on these projects.

The KCHR encourages the pursuit of family history and already has some 200 histories in its archives, some dating to the early 1940s. Cherian says that the center collects the histories because they illustrate customs and traditions, women's roles, local history and geography.

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