Genealogy - Why You Should Get Involved in Your Family
A few years ago I read a statistic that said that genealogy
was the second largest hobby in the United States - second only
to gardening. It was no surprise to me as I have been finding and
documenting my family tree for almost 30 years. Over that time a
lot of people have asked me, "Why genealogy? What do you get out
of it?" There are a lot of reasons to find out about your family
and I'll cover just a few hoping that one of them will get you
Curiosity: A lot of people are just plain curious about
where they came from, what their ancestors did, how they got here
- to this time and this place. Lots of people find themselves in
this category when they are told that they are adopted. While
they have adoptive parents, traditions, and history, they also
have another history that calls out to them. Other people have
lost touch and are curious about where people are, how they
turned out, who they married.
It's a Great Puzzle: This applies to me in several areas
of my life besides genealogy. I have worked with numbers a lot -
particularly with market research. I just love understanding what
motivates people to buy certain products, where they shop, how
much they want to pay, and where they want to hear about those
products. When my wife and I go camping I spend hours working
crypto quotes in the sun - fun and challenging puzzles that help
When it comes to puzzles, I don't think anything can match the
complexity and fun of genealogy. Just think about a jigsaw puzzle
that has an almost infinite number of pieces - some of them that
don't fit and some of them missing. Nothing can match the
satisfaction I get from finding one of those lost pieces of the
puzzle and putting it into place. These are puzzle pieces that
lead to long-lost cousins and far-off places.
Hobby: I did a lot of market research before organizing
FamilyTrackers, Inc. The company was started out of my belief
that Internet searches could be much more accurate than those
usually conducted on the Internet. Interestingly, there is a
group of genealogists who resist a more accurate way to find
information. They are not interested in any tools that make the
job faster. "That is the reason I do my family tree - to fill up
my time. Looking into page after page of results is the part I
like about genealogy. It's my hobby," they said. Fortunately for
me and for FamilyTrackers those who like the things I find most
tedious are not a large portion of the market.
Leave a Legacy: Some people approach middle age or have a
traumatic event at any age that prompts them to think about their
mortality. "If I never meet my grandchildren, what will they know
about me? What will they know about my parents? How will we be
remembered?" Those of us who are fortunate enough to have
ancestors in this category are indeed lucky. My grandmother wrote
a short story about her trip as a young girl in a covered wagon
from Illinois to Kansas. Thinking about it now, it must have been
a dusty, hot, and miserable trip. The events that she wrote about
were ordinary, daily occurrences that were taken for granted in
her time - something that she wrote about because the trip was
out of the ordinary. Read the same story today and discover
something that is unique to our experience - herding cattle,
rustlers, camping out every night. If you do nothing else with
your family history, you should write down or record your life
experiences in your own words in any way that you see fit.
Emotional Satisfaction: This is a huge reason for being
involved in genealogy and one that I hear repeated by other
people as they talk excitedly about their latest discovery. There
are moments that happen during a search that are touching and
immensely satisfying. This is the moment that you look at your
great grandfather's signature on your grandparent's marriage
license; put your hand on the baptismal font where your oldest
known ancestor was baptized; stand on the ground where your great
grandfather from the old country is buried - knowing that your
grandmother stood on this spot in front of an open grave grieving
her loss. These moments are thrilling, goose-bump producing
moments of a life time when you can almost reach across time and
touch a person who you finally understand and know. This is a
moment you must not miss!
Give Something Back: Lots of people get involved when they
volunteer at their local genealogical or historical society. What
a wonderful place to meet nice people who are willing to help you
discover your roots. These groups are responsible for saving
crumbling records all over the world and for making the
information available to everybody. People who work in these
places are almost always unpaid and give their time and effort on
behalf of people like you and me every single day - people they
have never even met. This is important work and you can get the
satisfaction of helping other people by volunteering yourself. It
is easy. Pick up the phone and call.
Whatever your reasons, give genealogy a try. It is a stimulating
hobby that will put you in touch with yourself and with a lot of
nice people who are ready and willing to help.
Gene Hall is a genealogist with almost 30 years of experience
and the CEO of FamilyTrackers, Inc., a world-wide genealogy
exchange dedicated to serving the needs of genealogists,
genealogical societies, professional genealogists, and
transcribers all over the world.
FamilyTrackers is located at http://www.familytrackers.com/
This article comes with reprint rights. You are free to reprint
and distribute it as you like. All that I ask is that you reprint
it in its entirety without any changes including this text and
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