Long before the advancement of technology, people were forced to write down important events like birthdays, marriage dates, deaths and more. A small percentage of people still write down these important dates on wall calendars or in address books, but the vast majority of us rely on modern technology to remind us of these dates. Social media is an example of one, the calendar app on your phone is another and some of us even have alarm reminders a few days prior to remind us to purchase a gift or plan a dinner.
Faith played a large role within the family dynamic during the time when family bibles were common. Prayers were said nightly, grace was shared prior to eating a meal, the family regularly attended service on Sundays and moral values were always expected to be upheld. The focus on religion has taken a bit of a back seat for some families in today’s world, but the importance of faith and religion continues for many. Families used to have dedicated blocks of time devoted to discussing passages from religious texts, and spending time together as a family. It was not uncommon for a Catholic family in particular to be in possession of a family Bible.
Family bibles typically housed important information about families in addition to prayers or scripture. My particular family bible was written in by my great great grandfather. Inside the covers he wrote birthdays of his family members, the marriage dates for his children as well as his own, death dates, addresses and more. He also pasted in obituaries, notices from the newspaper and folded leaves in between the fragile hundred year old pages.
The Bible itself focuses on various Saints and their histories. It was specifically Catholic, and a lot of the readings and teachings within this Bible focused on purely Catholic principles. It includes photos and stories which were often discussed during Bible study, and often times family Bibles were the only connection to scripture one had outside of church. The family Bible itself isn’t actually just a Bible, but also a companion text that allowed for personal information to be recorded. It doubled as a family history book.
If there is religion in your family history, particularly if your family hails from England, the United States or New Zealand, chances are you may have a family Bible floating around in your grandparents house or in your attic or tucked away in a tote bin in your basement. Search for it! You may have valuable genealogical information recorded by the family members themselves.
Have you ever found a family Bible? Let me know in the comments below.