You may have been interested to probe into your own genealogy and most likely, you have come across information about family crests. If you have been doing your genealogy research through the Internet, chances are you have tried looking up your surname in the many online databases with hopes of finding your bloodline's official family crest.
Even if you stumble across a family crest that is supposedly connected to your surname, you cannot guarantee that the “arms” indeed belong to someone from your true lineage. Historically, coats of arms were awarded to an individual person, not to a family or a name. While you may have the same surname, it is not synonymous to you being directly related to the original bearer of said “arms.”
Tracing your history and trying to identify your rightful family crest can be very interesting and challenging. However, with all the difficulties involved in establishing the authenticity and direct association of existing coats of arms, it seems wiser to create your own modern day family crest, one that truly belongs to your family and which you can bequeath to succeeding generations.
Designing Your Family Crest
Having decided to create your own modern day family crest, you may want to start the design process by finding inspiration from your family history. It is good if you can find documentation on the previous generations. If there are none, you can carry on with the more recent history, learning more from the elder family members who are still around. Recognize achievements in different fields or occupation. Is there is a prominent author in the family? Are there many doctors, teachers or construction workers in the family? Highlight notable events in your family history and establish the commonality among the family members.
Once you have ascertained the most distinguishing fact in your family, you can now work out a symbol to feature that particular attribute of your family. For instance, if your forefathers were farmers, you may wish to incorporate an image of a tractor or a plant in your family crest. It may be helpful to refer to the customary symbols used in the olden coat of arms or you can simply develop a more contemporary graphic representation of your family.
Incorporating Your Ethnic Heritage in the Family Crest
Ethnic heritage is one other factor to consider while you are working on the design of your modern day family crest. It is very much possible that your family descended from different ethnicities since the people in United States come from all corners of the globe. It would be interesting to add in other elements representing the different cultures in your lineage. Thus, if you have Polish, German and Irish blood, you may include in your family crest symbols representing these countries, such as miniature flags or cultural symbols.
Actually, there is no limitation as to the symbols you can use to represent the countries from which your family come. Whether it be the Irish leprechaun or the German stein, even the foods, or well-known architectural and natural landmarks, or any other popular symbols, you are free to add them into your family crest. Be creative!
Finalizing the Design of Your Modern Day Family Crest
When you have all the elements you want to incorporate into your modern day family crest, you may proceed to the final design. If you have the talent, you can draw the family crest yourself. Otherwise, you may wish to seek the help of a family member who has the artistic ability. If you are computer-savvy, you can use any graphic software to design your modern day family crest. You can choose from the clip art in stock or source materials from the Internet.
However, if your intention is to create a family crest that would serve as a family heirloom to be passed on to your descendants, it is best to hire a professional artist who can take in your design concept and execute a graphic rendition of your family crest. You can have this artwork reproduced on wherever you want to put your family crest. Just like in the olden days, you may wish to have a ring cast and engraved with your family crest, or a tapestry perhaps.
The main advantage of creating your own modern day family crest is the guarantee that the design is a true representation of your family. If you take the further steps to document it, all succeeding generations will have the assurance that this coat of arms is authentic -- that it belongs indeed to the family and not something that belongs to a namesake with whom you do not share any blood relations. By giving future generations a sense of place, security and belongingness, a family crest would be the best gift you can give to your family.