Harlingen Happenings

By Mary Torres, Special to MyRGV.com

October is Family History Month. In 2001, Congress first passed a resolution introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who wrote, “By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family.” Although in recent years, Presidential proclamations have not been forthcoming, family history enthusiasts continue to celebrate Family History Month every October.

All of us have a history that extends far back beyond ourselves. Each ancestor has left his or her mark on us and has helped to form the traditions and culture within our lives. Our family history tells us who we are and where we come from. Family history has always been held in high regard and in the medieval ages, one’s lineage was so important that texts were created tracing the lineage of every noble person and family crests were designed.

While it’s good to know where we came from, our genealogy is even more important than just knowing our origins. In recent years it’s become important for reasons beyond tracking your family line as many conditions and diseases have been discovered to be congenital, meaning that they pass from mother or father to child. Tracking your family history means that doctors can keep an eye out for these conditions during your visits, and may be able to prevent or slow their progress as you age. The addition of DNA testing has further expanded our knowledge by enabling us to connect to other family members and is used by adoptees to locate biological parents and families.

Last year COVID-19 curtailed many of the activities we would normally pursue during Family History Month. This year we are able to visit libraries, some archives, courthouses, and other repositories to research our family surnames. We’re also able to attend genealogical society meetings and conferences, in person or virtually. There are some activities you can do at home with your family and virtually on the Internet.

If you’re not already involved, this would be a good time to start you03r family history research by using resources such as FamilySearch.org and other free sites to download pedigree charts to begin recording your family tree. Search your home for documents such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, and family photos.  Record your family stories to share with relatives, call an older relative, and record your interview with them about your family’s history. Another resource that is often overlooked is the Family Group pages on Facebook.

Many universities and public library archives, museums, genealogical and historical societies, businesses,  federal, state, and local government agencies, and other sources are available on the Internet. Some local archives are located at The University of Texas-Pan American Library; The Brownsville Historical Association; Harlingen Public Library and the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum to name just a few, but check before you plan your visit as some may not yet be open to the public or are operating under a different schedule.

The Valley Byliners, a local support group for writers will meet on Oct. 9, at 1:30 p.m. on Zoom and in person at the Harlingen Public Library, 410 ’76 Dr. The guest speaker, Frank Cortazo will present, “Revisiting the Imagination In Writing a Fiction Story.” As a writer, he brings much of his experience to this presentation. This is a great opportunity for writers and authors, as he will provide tips and ideas on how to write fiction, including children’s stories.  Everyone is welcome and membership to join the Valley Byliners is FREE until January 2022.  The annual fees after that date will be $20.00. For more information visit the Byliners Facebook page or email [email protected]

The 28th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival 2021 is back! This year’s live event will be held on Nov. 10-14, at the Harlingen Convention Center, 701 Harlingen Heights Dr., Harlingen. The Festival will offer over 120 field trips, keynote speakers, afternoon presentations, a trade show, Birders Bazaar, a silent auction, a souvenir booth, and a fabulous art and photography show by local students. Register by October 27, 2021 at https://www.rgvbf.org.