Surname Longevity

How long do surnames live in memory?

With people, women’s average life expectancy is longer than men’s. With surnames, just the opposite is true.

Paternal surnames are often remembered for many generations, but maternal surnames are often forgotten after only two generations. It seems that most people, except those who have been bitten by the genealogy bug, do not know or remember the surnames of either of their grandmothers.

Why is this? Why do non-genealogists believe that genealogy is only about one’s own surname? Why does mainstream media continue to encourage this belief? Aren’t mothers’ genes important? Just as important? Why aren’t mothers railing against this unfair bias by the mainstream media?

The line of one’s father’s father’s father’s father’s etc. is but one thin thread from the large and undoubtedly very colorful tapestry of one’s ancestry. The law of averages says that most of the excitement is elsewhere; on one (or most probably both) of the paths that begin with either one’s mother or one’s father’s mother.

To know all of one’s ancestry for twenty generations (only about six centuries) means that one can fill in more than one million boxes on one’s ancestor chart. The line of one’s father’s father’s father’s father’s etc. represents only twenty (20) of those one million plus boxes.

I wonder when the mainstream media will begin exploring and reporting on all of the exciting and enriching possibilities on mothers’ ancestral pathways?

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