Um… not exactly…

It’s National Family History Month!

All of us — The Legal Genealogist included — have seen the announcements and memes today, haven’t we?

October! National Family History Month!

October 2018 calendar

For us as genealogists, that’s a really neat thing, isn’t it?

Except for one little detail.

It’s not National Family History Month.

Not in 2018, at any rate.

You see, to make something official as a national day of this or month of that, you have to have Congressional action and, usually, Presidential action.

It usually begins in the form of a resolution by one or both houses of Congress, calling for a Presidential Proclamation. And in the case of something as innocuous as Family History Month, it could well be passed by unanimous consent. That’s what happened the first time October was actually suggested as Family History Month, in 2001, by S. Res. 160, “A resolution designating the month of October 2001, as ‘Family History Month’.”

The resolution noted, among other things, that “within our Nation’s libraries and archives lie the treasured records that detail the history of our Nation, our States, our communities, and our citizens.” It then designated October 2001 as Family History Month and called on the President to “issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe the month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”1

There wasn’t any Presidential Proclamation that year.2

The Senate did it again the next year3 and then again in 20034 and again in 2005.5

In those years, as well, there never was a Presidential Proclamation making October National Family History Month.6

This year, and since 2005, there hasn’t even been a resolution in either house of Congress.

So… does that mean we don’t celebrate family history?

Heck, no!! As genealogists, we make every day part of our national family history celebration — and there’s lots coming up in October to focus us on our research.7

But… sigh … it really isn’t National Family History Month.

Really.


SOURCES

  1. S. Res. 160, “A resolution designating the month of October 2001, as ‘Family History Month’,” Congress.gov (https://www.congress.gov/ : accessed 1 Oct 2018).
  2. See Proclamations Issued by President Bush, Whitehouse Archives (https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/ : accessed 1 Oct 2018).
  3. S. Res. 330, “A resolution designating the month of October 2002, as ‘Family History Month’,” Congress.gov (https://www.congress.gov/ : accessed 1 Oct 2018).
  4. Ibid., S. Res. 175, “A resolution designating the month of October 2003, as ‘Family History Month’.”
  5. Ibid., S. Res. 266, “A resolution designating the month of October 2005, as ‘Family History Month’.”
  6. See Proclamations Issued by President Bush.
  7. Just as one example, and I’ll write about this more as the date gets closer, the National Archives has a virtual fair every October, and this year it’s on October 24.
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