A while back, I asked a question (now closed): What is the difference between 'genealogy' and 'family history'?. At the root of what I was trying to understand is the definition of Family History that we're adopting on this site. I still think this is worth clarifying.

For example, this question: How can I trace my ancestry in India? could be asking about Jewish and Christian History in Kerala, India in the 1st Century CE, although it is slowly getting reworded to focus on finding records about Christian and Jewish communities in that place and period. Are both topics "Family History"? Are either of them, given the likely extreme difficulty of tracing a genealogical line back to 1st century Kerala? Do we expect or even encourage an overlap with https://history.stackexchange.com/?


European genealogy has its roots in documenting the transfer of property and power through an individual-centred history. Hence our emphasis on proceeding step-wise with tightly documented links between individuals across generations.

Not all cultures place the same value on this view of history. The example cited by ColeValleyGirl above apparently has a collectivist focus, seeking the origin of "my people" rather than "my family".

There is no shortage of cultural groups who prefer to think of themselves and their history in this "alternative" framework.

Is this site able to, or prepared to, accommodate that view of family history?

  • I'm prepared to accommodate that view. I also think that researching "my people" has an overlap with researching "my family". If you don't understand where "your people" come from and what events they have been through, it does make it hard to find records about "your family". – user104 Oct 26 '12 at 13:29

There are doubtless overlaps, as there are with every site. However, History SE focuses on more general history. A History SE question would be https://history.stackexchange.com/q/23/961. Family History is more specific to one person or family and will normally be closed as to localized on History SE. The question you linked to would be off-topic at History SE as spelled out in the FAQ.

. . .

and it is not about:


. . .

Then you're in the right place!

History SE is about general history. Right now, I can't think of one question that would be on-topic for both. I don't think we need to worry about an overlap in the topics of the two sites.

  • I'm clear that there's no overlap for genealogy, but the question I linked to is about historical events (the arrival of Christianity in India) and cultures. And where should I ask "Many of my ancestors died of Pthisis (TB). What was it about the living conditions of nail-makers in the Black Country (England) in the early 19th century that made this so prevalent?" Is it Family History because I've mentioned my ancestors? I don't mind which way the consensus comes out, I just think out FAQ need to be a little clearer on our scope. [Which may be the old Quality Manager in me coming out...] – user104 Oct 26 '12 at 14:29
  • No, mentioning your ancestors (as in this case) does not really make it family history. That would be completely on-topic at History SE, however. – American Luke Oct 27 '12 at 0:41

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