Discover Your Culture with Ethnic Heritage Organizations
8/2/2011
Think your family lacks ethnic identity? Heritage organizations can help you get in touch with your cultural roots.
"My family has no ethnic identity at all," lamented my friend recently, when we were comparing holiday traditions. "We don't celebrate any unusual holidays. We have no special pastries at Easter. We eat meals from all over the world, and none of them taste like the past."

I had to sympathize. It can be difficult to find meaningful ethnic identity in this melting-pot country -- unless your family includes recent immigrants, or you sport a name or physical traits that obviate your background (like a red-headed woman named Colleen O'Donnell). Maybe you have Grandma's paczki recipe or a tartan scarf. But you still wish you could more fully understand your immigrant ancestors' experiences and appreciate the influence of your family's ethnicity in your life. And of course, you'd love some help with your genealogy research.

That's where ethnic-based heritage and genealogical societies can help. We're not talking about donning lederhosen or learning to polka (unless you want to). Heritage organizations have resources -- from books to historical records to recipes and more -- that let you reconnect with your roots and gain genealogical insight. You may be surprised by how much ethnic identity you really do have. All you need is a little cultural curiosity and these tips on finding and learning from heritage organizations.