Genealogy through the ages

During the past few weeks I have been busy working with a genealogical peerage from 16th century Spain, named Nobiliario genealógico de varias casas de España. It is a handwritten manuscript that describes noble families in the Iberian Peninsula, and includes drawings of each family’s coats of arms. Through the years, many people have used it, as evidenced by all of the notes and comments written in the margins! It is currently in safe keeping at the Newberry Library in Chicago. It is such a thrill to be working with such a unique and colorful book!

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Newberry Library trying to decode this manuscript!

The art of tracing one’s ancestors is not a new pastime. For many centuries families have kept track of their family histories. Your lineage would have been an important part of your identity. Even religious texts like the Old Testament and the Qur’an contain lineages of important religious figures! Genealogies (or peerages, as this book is called) were recorded in medieval and early modern Europe for a variety of reasons, but typically only for families from the upper classes. Continue reading “Genealogy through the ages”