There are a lot of terms used in the fields of genealogy and personal history. While most are familiar to people actively engaged in either pursuit, some can be perplexing to people who are less familiar with them.
Take, for example, the difference between personal history and family history. To me, the terms are virtually interchangeable because I come from a traditional family, that is, one that includes parents, grandparents, children, etc. In my case, my personal history is the same as my family history, although one might quibble that my personal history is that which belongs to me as an individual, not the rest of my family. Fair enough.
But I use the term personal history in a broader form: to include those who may have no direct descendants but still wish to save their stories for others. I’m not certain that this is a valid distinction, though, and would be interested in how others distinguish between the two terms.
I was reminded of the power of labels this week as I listened to Iowa barbecuing icon Speed Herrig of Cookie’s fame on the Van & Bonnie show on WHO radio here in Des Moines. Speed told the story of how, when giving out samples of his product, he asked a woman if she’d like to try his new “hot & spicy” sauce. No, no, she said. Speed, quickly re-naming the product on the spot, asked, “Well then, how about our Western style?” The woman said yes.
Realizing what he had learned, he went back to the factory and re-labeled all his existing product. Speed says he now gets comments all the time about how “that hot & spicy tore up my stomach. This new Western style doesn’t do that.”
Same product, different name, different perception.
What about personal and family history? Is there a difference?
Flickr photo courtesy of jack dorsey.