What did your ancestors look like

Would you like to add a quote to your pedigree or family book? Then you are right here. Our collection of quotes on the subject of family research, family history, ancestors, etc. is not very large, but there may still be a suitable text for you.


Who calls the genders from the beginning?
It's me the lord
the first and still the same for the last.

Good for those who fondly remember their fathers,
who glad of their deeds, their greatness,
entertains the listener and, quietly rejoicing,
sees itself closed at the end of this beautiful row.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Iphigenie 1,3

It is a wise ordinance of the world
that we do not know how far we are ourselves
continue the lives of past people,
and that we only occasionally notice with astonishment
how we live on in our children.

Gustav Freytag (1816-1895)

We all want to know who we are and where we come from. No matter what we achieve in life, without this clarity there remains a void in us, a feeling of rootlessness.

Alex Haley (1921-1992)

What is noisy in the stream of times
always greets the future with a warning.
What was cleverly created by the old,
be kissed faithfully by boys.

The awareness of connectedness
with previous generations can
like a lifeline
be the difficult present.

John Dos Passos (1896-1970)

Tell me what name do father and mother call you,
and the citizens of the city, and who live around you?
Because no one among mortals remains completely nameless,
noble or low who was once begotten by men,
but one names everyone as soon as his mother is born.

Homer, Odyssey, Achter Gesang, verse 550 - 554 after the translation by Johann Heinrich Voss

Past wakes up, she lives
as soon as you immerse yourself in it ...,
so that we get to know people in it
and thereby also ourselves.

Everything comes and goes only to complement each other.
The generations renew themselves in quick succession
again and again and pass the torch on to one of the others,
like the runners in the torch relay.

Lucrez, De rerum natura (On the nature of things), 2.76-79

Oral tradition allows us to follow only three sexes
record, we get to know six more from the church registers,
The land registers still preserved give us information about five older ones.

Long forgotten ancestors come to life again.
Crosses and corpse stones have long since disappeared,
every trace of their existence seems to be blurred.
But it's really just her name
preserved in the church and land registers?
Their being and being still lives on in their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, because:
We are all not us, we depend on ours
Being and doing depends on those who were before us.

The domestic joys of men are the finest on earth, and parents' joy in their children is the most sacred joy of mankind.

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827)

Who wants to live in the future
must spell in the past.

André Malraux (1901-1976)

I know a colleague
who retrace their family tree
can reach those ancestors
who still lived on him.

Robert Lembke (1913-1989)

Ask the previous genders and resolve
to research their fathers. Because we are from yesterday
and don't know anything. Our life is a shadow on earth.

'... I cannot suppress a warning here either. Dear reader, if you devote yourself to family research and have given it your little finger, it will soon take your whole hand. If you only know some of your ancestors, then you also want to know more about them and would like to get to know more until your pedigree is completely complete and error-free. Soon you will not only have your ancestors, they will have you. And if there is still a gap somewhere in your notes, then your ancestor or ancestor won't let you rest, neither by day nor at night, and will pursue you while you are awake, dreaming and sleeping until the gap is filled. So be careful not to get caught up in the family craze like so many others! '

August Ludwig, Wie die Alten sungen, sheets from a German family history, Weimar 1923, p. 10.

Like the leaves in the forest, so are the families of men,
some of the wind scatters the earth, others again
the budding forest drives, generates warmth in the spring,
if man's gender, this grows and that disappears.

Homer, Iliad, Sixth Canto, verses 146-149 based on the translation by Johann Heinrich Voss

You can't change anything about your ancestors
but you can have a say
what becomes of the offspring.

François de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)

Like the new heaven and the new earth
that I make, stand in front of me,
saith the LORD, your family and name also shall endure.

Ancestors are only zeros for him,
who comes to them as zero.
Stand as a number at their head,
and the zeros count.

Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827), epigrams

The children of the old crown are children,
and the glory of children are their fathers.

A being that despises its tribe,
can never be firmly limited in itself.

William Shakespeare, King Lear IV, 2nd

But if it has been said to imitate the ancestors,
then of course that excludes the need to imitate their mistakes.

Cicero, De officiis (On Dutiful Action) I, 33 (121)

You are grandson!
Victories and worries that were yesterday you thank your existence.
As ancestor, you hold the blessings and the curse of the most distant generations in your hands.

Who lives in the memory of his loved ones,
he's not dead, he's just far away;
is dead - who is forgotten.

Eduard Möricke (1804-1875)

What you inherit from
your fathers
acquire it,
to own it.

Goethe, Faust I, verse 682f.

If we don't know where we're going
we should at least try to fathom
where we come from to get a sense of where we stand.

You can only understand life backwards
but you have to live it forward.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

The writer (and Anglican clergyman) Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was asked what he thought of the nobility. "Those," he replied, "who can say nothing else in their favor than their ancestors, are like the potatoes, the most valuable part of which rests underground."

Every generation smiles at the fathers
laughs at the grandfathers
and admired the great-grandfathers.

William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

A little ring
Limits our life
And many genders
Line up all the time
In their existence
Infinite chain.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Frontiers of Humanity, 1780

Small is the ring
Enclosing our life,
And whole generations
Link themselves firmly
On to existence's
Clain never-ending.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe, The Boundaries of Humanity, 1780 Translator: Edgar Alfred Bowring

What a small part of infinite and immeasurable time is allotted to each of us!
It is so quickly devoured by eternity.
What a small part of the whole being!
What a small part of the whole world soul!
How small is the lump of earth on which you creep!
Consider all of this and then consider nothing great than this: to act,
how your nature leads you and to suffer, what the all-nature brings with it.

Marc Aurel (121-180 AD)

Those who do not know their roots have no support.

Arnold Zweig (1887-1968)

Do not be ashamed of your ancestors, you also have no share in their merits.

You have to know where you come from if you want to know who you are. We are not just ourselves. We are also our origin. The wishes, the images of life, the life expectancies of the people who lived before us have entered our present. Tracking them down means getting to know yourself.

Fulbert Steffensky (* 1933)

Nobody should forget their roots. They are the origin of our life.

Federico Fellini (1920-1993)

"If a person does not know the origin of his forefathers, he is like a monkey that has got lost in the forest."

Where there is no past, there is no future. Therefore our actions are necessarily based on the past.

You are a person where you remember your ancestors and where you care for your grandchildren.

To be proud of the glory of one's ancestors is not only permitted, it is even required; to ignore him is shameful faint-heartedness.

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

One generation passes and another comes;
but the earth remains as it is. What happened will be again
and what has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.
It's been there long before we were born.
We just don't know anything about what the ancients did.
And what we do today or our children tomorrow will soon be forgotten.

Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes / Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1


Would you like to add a poem to your pedigree or family book? Then you are right here. Perhaps there is a poem in our collection on family history, family history, ancestors, etc. that you like.

You can find many of the ancestors here.
A trail from each leads to you.
A drop of blood runs from each of you
Who determines your path in secret.
Your doing and thinking vibrates again in you -
Weighs down the weight of their faults
If their wealth, their longing striving,
It should give you strength and direction.
Have you immersed yourself in their fate
In their struggles and toil, their misery, their happiness -
Then look forward and be ready
To do your work in your time.
Love this life! Embrace it deeply!
Feel the sense of what it called you to do!
But does it ask you to say yes or no
Remember, it's not yours alone.

And that is what the clan is good for,
that one helps another,
in need the blood runs together.

Is it clear and open to you yesterday
do you seem strong today,
can also hope for a morning
that is no less happy.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832)

On the tree of mankind blossom after blossom presses,
They weigh themselves on it according to eternal rules;
If one of them burned up dull and withered,
The other one jumps up there, full and splendid.
Forever coming and forever going
And now and never lazy standstill!
We see it up, we see it blow down -
And their lots rest in the hand of God!

Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810-1876)

The torch goes from hand to hand
if death stole it from you,
the next one picks them up again;
the flaming relay race
continues ---
Time is running fast and nobody asks
how long everyone carries the torch.
Except that it burns pure and bright
and that a heart burns in her,
is important ---
So wear me and you too
the torch to distant goals
a little piece - May light them pay off
Waiting in front of us in the dark
the others!

Heinrich Anacker (1901-1971)

The genealogist

You research, you suspect, you calculate
what is listed in the books
in a tangle of yellowed data.
often it's pure guesswork
mysterious flourishes,
that line up there
on documented parchment,
that the family chronicle knows.
The researcher at the lectern
needs special patience,
around in those hieroglyphs
to deepen in the long past
and, after tough toil,
record dust-free facts
(in plain language for the layperson -
the ancestors may forgive this!)
The spell is irresistible
of the worlds that opened up
and reveal the fate of the family
through artfully handwritten fonts ...
despite a lot of patience and skill
Unfortunately, there is not only the luck of a researcher.
yes, it is sometimes misleading -
Genealogy remains fascinating!


How many thousands of ancestors
have been, are you.
From many thousands of days
Today grew to you.

Each of your ancestors
brought life to you.
Not a single one should be missing
otherwise you wouldn't be here.

Even what you have long forgotten
lives on in you.
The happiness and sorrow of yesterday
on the new day with weaves.

This is how pride mixes with humility.
You only live because nothing is missing.
But you are to your life
only you chosen.

Felix von Schroeder (1912-2003)

Fate of a genealogist

Mr. Kreitlein left years ago
retired at 65;
out of boredom he saw it
soon turned to a hobby.
Here he got somehow
to his ancestral gallery.
That was something really interesting
something completely new, unknown
and he decided at once, because of it
to get a family tree.
He rummaged in city archives
in chronicles, in old letters,
took himself to many a village pastor
the thick church registers
and urged on the occasion
far, far into the past.
He found two tailors, an innkeeper,
four farmers, one swineherd,
a sexton each, miller, baker,
three blacksmiths, one slater,
then a princely lackey,
a postillon was also there.
An ancestor was even a minister,
two others lived as masters,
then there were a couple of grenadiers
two musicians, two barbers,
three butchers and in blind zeal
he found another scissors grinder.
It was a tree with many branches
Not to mention secondary instincts.
Mr. Kreitlein needed a lot of paper,
lots of ink and patience for it.

He came to fifteen hundred nine
but then it seemed to be over
because here all springs dried up,
there was no more ancestor to be found.
Then Herr Kreitlein got on the train,
who carried him to distant Hamburg,
to Dr. Dr. Dusterwald,
who was considered a technical expert.
He begged him in moving words
to locate the trunk of the root stake,
or that man
with which the series once began.
The doctor smiles jovially:
Dear me, well, go then
in our world-famous zoo,
right at the front, department two ".
Herr Kreitlein found this strange
but because he was already in Hamburg
he came on the same day
to Hagenbeck. The blow hit him!
There sat in his cage mansion
a monkey, namely a gorilla
and looked sad and puzzled
in our current century,
caught lice and devoured bananas.
Herr Kreitlein never looked for ancestors again.

I am, thank God, old aristocracy,
but my son, that annoys me,
counts one ancestor more than me.

Friedrich Haug (1761-1829), Epigrammatic Games 2.43

The first thing that man finds in life
the last thing he reaches out to
the most precious thing he has in life,
is the family.

Adolf Kolping (1813-1865)

Fathers blessing

Of our fathers' deeds
to build oneself up with love,
propagate their seeds,
trust the old reason
in such memory
the land of salvation;
to be offended for our disgrace,
rejoice in our honor,
forget your own self
in all pleasure and pain:
that's what is called, presumably,
one heart for our people.

Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862)


It is written on one of the leaves
the badly yellowed, with scholarly handwriting,
As for Andres Arnold, the horse-husband here,
in long outdated, long pale letters:
Born seventeen forty. Then advertised
around Magdalena Kümmerle. Trusted.
Badly and rightly built on the house of life.
Eleven children. Widowed early. Died late.
This is any man's life
and no one sees any trace of this life
and our late eyes only find
three times in the row of children: Johannes.
Just this. And suddenly you know the story
of this life that was one to us
as everyone is, and that with one clear
stands in one's own suffering, in one's own light:
Three times the night of conception. And pregnant three times.
Give birth three times. First scream three times.
Three times a fight to see who is the strongest here:
God or horse shepherd. Totenanger three times.
A child's grave three times. With white stones
nicely bordered. And flowers. And you can
see them on Sundays. A great man
his wife next to it. Quiet, without crying.
And three times the same name here in the book:
Johannes Arnold. And the cross says:
In the name of Christ, sleep until day.
You were, sir, and you remain the winner. Amen.

Albrecht Goes (1908-2000)

.... and you should one day know
that this life is sweet breath,
that this heartbeat is deep property
is only fief, and that through your blood,
Past and ancestral inheritance
and the distant future rolls,
and that for every hair on your head
a struggle, a woe, a death suffered.

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962)

The wall of humanity
Do not make yourself big with the height you have reached!
You stand bare on your ancestral shoulders!
Each of them was like you at one point or another
The most high, and the neighbors covered him up,
As stone on stone rises up to the ridge.
You are only a gable until you become a pedestal!
Many thousands will stand on your shoulders
And look down on you just as proud.

A. De Nora (= Anton Noder) (1864-1936)

Family chronicle

Dipping into a well of time
get lost between generations,
follow the labyrinth of sexes,
seek the wisp of the beginning.
Experience wars and famines,
Epidemics and conflagrations.
Be like God
seized and uninvolved,
with the knowledge
of millennia.
Rise lower and lower
to meet those
who were the first to till the ground,
who later devoured them
and carries me.
Yours and mine
borrowed home
on time.

Limits of humanity, verses 4 and 5
What is different
Gods of men?
That many waves
Walk before those
An eternal stream:
The wave lifts us
The wave devours
And we're sinking.
A little ring
Limits our life
And many genders
Line up all the time
In their existence
Infinite chain.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

We continue to collect suitable poems on the subject of family research. So we would be grateful if you could help expand the collection. We are particularly interested in poems by well-known authors. Send us suitable texts, by e-mail to [email protected] or by post to the GFF. Thank you very much!

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