Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Heritage refers something inherited from the past, a legacy passed from one generation to the next. A heritage may be something one inherits such as money or property, or it may be cultural legacy such as poverty or wealth, an ethnic background, or a strong familial trait. Although they stem from the same root, heritage implies something different from heredity and distinct genetic characteristics such as green eyes and red hair.
One's heritage is a typically thought of as birthright, something of which to be proud or something one might wish to overcome. In genealogy, seeking one's heritage is the quest -- an almost universal quest, according to "Roots" author Alex Haley: "In all of us there is a hunger,marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from."