Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Why Do I Pursue Genealogy?

Another fabulous Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1) Think about the question: "Why do I pursue genealogy and family history research?"

2) Tell us about it on your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook.

I do genealogy because I can’t not do it; after five short years, it has become a part of who I am.

It is intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying. You get to be a cross between a detective and a scholarly researcher. Sometimes you are pursuing the thinnest of clues (detective), and other times you are amassing, comparing and cross-checking, and filtering out many different pieces of information from sources of widely varying thoroughness and reliability (researcher). Depending on your mood on any given day, you can assume one role or the other, or both.

And, as many puzzles as you solve, there is no end of them. There will always be another ancestor to find, another distant cousin or uncle who has mysteriously disappeared, another strange fact that doesn’t fit in but has to fit in. You are always learning something new in genealogy.

Got some OCD tendencies? Filling in those little boxes can be very satisfying. Have some unfulfilled artistic leanings? Artful storytelling or visually beautiful presentation of photographs, family trees, or old documents can be a major part of your family research. Love history? You will never feel so connected to history as you do when you learn that one of your ancestors was actually present at some historical event. Have a philosophical bent? Family research allows you to see life in both macrocosm and microcosm: it provides perspective while filling in little details. Your own life doesn’t seem so difficult after you compare it to the hardships and heartbreaks your ancestors had to endure.

Genealogy can be a solitary pursuit if you wish, but it is one of those passionately pursued pastimes that is a natural social activity: connecting with family, connecting with other researchers, connecting with an audience or classroom, and, if the results of your research are preserved, connecting with future generations. Collaboration actually produces better results.

Genealogical research can be adapted to your circumstances and mood. Like to travel? There are road trips for research, strolls through cemeteries, attendance at conferences and conventions, and visits to interview family members. Like to get “goodies” in the mail? There is nothing like getting a big, fat envelope from the archives. Prefer to be a Super Surfer of the Internet and a master operator of your genealogy program from the comfort of your home office? There are genea-gizmos and whizbang gadgets for genealogists galore. Don’t have much to spend on genealogy? There is an entire world of free genealogy programs, free online databases, and RAOGK.

And that’s just skimming the surface.

Thanks, Randy. This is one of my favorite subjects.


  1. You got that ALL right! 1000000% (is there such a number??? yea, for genie buffs there is!)

    Well said! YA YA YA

  2. YEP! I think you just about covered it! :-D

  3. Greta, good response, I would like to have said that, but didn't. To excite others, I always use the word detective, and that interests them. Thanks.

  4. Great post, well said! I'm with you on the "I can't NOT do it" part!! It is the cross between detective and researcher that makes genealogy such an appealing hobby to so many!

  5. Carol, Lisa, Barbara, Jenna - Thank you all for stopping by and commenting! It is so much fun to talk to other genealogy/family history people, because they all "get it"! And Barbara, it's exactly the "detective" word that I'm trying to use to lure my daughters into family research.

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