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Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Serious Nature of Genealogy

Genealogist caught chopping down family tree; microfilm at 11:00!

My family tree research twists and turns like a windsock in a strong breeze. I've studied the history and geography of the places in which my ancestors lived. I've become familiar with the records available in a variety of locations. I've looked for them online, in maps, in books and newspapers, on microfilm.

Every family tree has some sap in it.

The search is still exciting, even after ~ hmm hmm ~ 30 years. When I started, I told myself that if I reach a point that this is no longer fun, I'll stop. The research continues to keep me interested, but some of the researchers I've met have me shaking my head.

Ancestors run in my family.

Why do genealogists take themselves so seriously? We are an odd bunch, really. What other hobby includes searching through dusty courthouse basements, squinting at faded handwriting, attempting to decipher ancient Latin script, and wandering through abandoned cemeteries?

Adam and Eve probably found genealogy boring.

In good times there is a comaraderie among fellow researchers. We willingly share our knowledge, our frustrations, our triumphs - we all belong to the same club. Lately however, I have encountered a different group: mean genealogists.

Genealogy is relatively interesting.

Some of the family members that reside in the living branches of our trees can be a bit challenging. I understand and empathize. Truly I do. But we don't "own" our family history. I think it's wrong to hold the family tree hostage from people who share our DNA.

Genealogists do it generation after generation.

I recently listened in horror as a woman proudly announced her refusal to tell her inquiring family about any of the information she gathered. She felt that they weren't willing to do the work and therefore they should reap no rewards.

Old genealogists never die, they just lose their census.

Perhaps in 2011 we can be kinder, gentler genealogists. Remember we need to recruit new club members and they will need time to learn the secret handshake.

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