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Applications of Genealogy Palestinian Family History, and Heritage

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 02.03.2006:

By Leyla Zuaiter

Look at any US-based genealogy site, and you will find spin-offs in a wide variety of fields. There is no reason why Palestine should be an exception exception.


Palestinian Genealogy, Family History, Heritage should be an integral part of the Palestinian curriculum, from Kindergarden to Tawjihi. Obviously the development of such a curriculum cannot occur overnight. In the meantime, many activities in this area can be incorporated into history, social studies, art, English and other classes. See entries in this section: “Developing Life Skills through Family History and Genealogy” and “Sample Educational Activities”

Recreation and Tourism

Family History and Genealogy can serve as a stimulus for both domestic and international tourism, since those searching for their roots are often seized by a burning desire to visit the places of their ancestors.

Special tours and programs can be designed for Diaspora Palestinians, many of whom may be of only partial Palestinian descent and who may not speak Arabic.

Trips around this theme can also be designed for local Palestinians. For examples, Bethlehemites could go visit villages such as Tekoa and Um Tuba where some of their ancestors came from, where they may have distant cousins.

The family history and genealogy of villages can be displayed in heritage centers, both as a tool for educating the younger generation, and impressing in the foreign visitor the deep-rooted Palestinian heritage.

Scouts After I had deleted this heading for lack of specific content, a friend just happened to send me this link for the requirements for the Boy Scout badge in Genealogy in the United States. What a good idea!


The use of family history and genealogical themes in art is limited only by the imaginations. Old photos of people, families, buildings, landscapes, artifacts and documents can be made into attractive collages —either in one-of-a-kind canvases or installations, or digitally. Calligraphy or decorative fonts in Arabic and/or English can be incorporated as a design element to provide explanatory text. Income-generating applications include:

Picture albums with explanatory text

Gift-wrap paper

Packaging of Holy Land items


Album Covers


Book Covers


Objects—for example boxes and trays decoupaged with vintage photos or documents.

Framed vintage photos—(thought could be given to creating the frame itself)

Shadow boxes

Gift Books

Articles of clothing


Use of traditional crafts in new ways

Carving olive wood/ embroidered puppets in play sets with figures from Palestinian folktales/packaged with children’s books.


Family historians soon find their shelves filling up with books which help them understand the lives and times of their ancestors. On this site we have attempted to indicate some books to help them in their quest, potentially fueling demand for works by Palestinian authors.


Nostalgic or vintage postcards from around the world find avid collectors. Old photos of individuals, families, landscapes, buildings and artifacts can be made into attractive postcards—either as they are or incorporated into artistic collages; even in periods of little tourism, they can be marketed on the Internet.


Next time you want to give a gift for a family member, think before you go out and spend money on a generic gift with little meaning. With a little thought and effort you can give a gift from which you will derive as much satisfaction as the recipient.


Although there is a wide selection of excellent genealogy software on the market, it is geared towards western cultures. A good project would be the development of a bilingual or multilingual software specifically geared to Palestine. Built-in-prompts could be included to aid the researcher in asking the right questions and searching the right records. In preparing the software, much of the groundwork would have been laid for software which could be modified and marketed to the Arab world in general.

Helping others with their genealogical research.

Although Internet Genealogy is typically a result of volunteer efforts, some people do make a living or supplement their income through this field. There are professional certified Genealogists in the United States and other countries, who have taken the coursework necessary to help others in their search. Such certification may be premature in Palestine, but worth working toward. Still, anyone with the necessary research, language and writing skills may be able to help other Palestinians to uncover more than they might by themselves. While generally a “look-up” in one source is done free by volunteers, when extensive research is involved, a charge is only reasonable and fair.

Interior Design and Decor

Can’t afford to decorate your home the way you like? Join the “Use what you Have” school of decorating, and create a one of a kind home full of meaning. Get out whatever family objects, documents, photos, articles of clothing and furnishings you have. It doesn’t matter if they are chipped, broken, torn, frayed or faded. Think of creative ways to group them, frame them or combine them into a pleasing tableau.

This article is excerpted from an article which first appeared on AEI’s Bethlehem Genealogy and Family History Website

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