Genealogy can be a powerful enlivener of history, and not only for grown-ups. Children love family stories, and if they know that Grandfather was a carrier flier in the Pacific or that Grandmother’s grandparents had the first car in their neighborhood, they will absorb a personal sense of the past that will make history classes more exciting.
Even as a small boy I knew that I was descended from the Mayflower’s John Rowland, which puts me one up on your Judson Hale, who only wishes he were. I can still remember the thrill of reading Bradford’s history about Howland’s falling overboard and wondering, “Where would I be if he hadn’t been rescued?”
I knew about Quaker ancestors on Nantucket and in Pennsylvania and their migration south and to the Midwest. And I knew that my grandfathers had fought, one for the North and one for the South, in the Civil War, which made that war more vivid—though they were both most uncommunicative about it!