And I’m a genealogist!
These simple words mean so many different things to an equally different group of people.
- To the misinformed, you are mistaken for a doctor in women’s sciences. (Yes, I get this a lot; although I try not to enjoy it too much.).
- To your friends, they (probably) think you are strangely obsessed with dead people.
- Then there’s your family, who KNOW you are strangely obsessed with dead people!
- Of course, there are your genealogy buddies, with whom you have that tiara fellowship that your spouse just doesn’t understand. You know those odd ball rockstars I am talking about: where each of you has a unique talent, whether it is deciphering handwriting, decoding metes and bounds, explaining olde legalese, dating old photographs, and identifying old military uniforms.
But none of these really answers the most basic question: Why? Why genealogy?
There is no single, or wrong, answer, but I have heard a few that can be grouped into one category: for Love.
For the Love of History — knowing that your many times great grandfather served under Washington at Valley Forge!
I don’t know about you, but history in school wasn’t very interesting. That quickly changed after learning family members were fighting in the War of 1812 — against each other on both sides! Loyalists vs Patriots!
For the cherished memories of a loved one — sharing the stories that your grandfather told you, when you were small:
“When I was your age Dearie, it was WWII, and we just liberated Holland!”
You remember! Your eyes were wide with wonder. Your heart was pounding. You sat on the floor at your hero’s feet, enraptured completely!
And now, all you have is a photograph — not true!
I do not possess any pictures of my paternal grandmother, but when I close my eyes and think of her, I am in tears before any of you can count to three! I hear her soft but firm voice and can smell those hard-white, red-striped peppermint sweets that she loved so much.
For the Love of Family (Part 1) — knowing that you got your red hair from Great-Grams and not one of the Muppets!
For the Love of Family (Part 2) — knowing what the generations before you endured that puts you where you are now.
Immigrant families took chances during both World Wars, during political upheavals, medical pandemics as well as financial and agricultural ruin. They humbled themselves giving a loving and memorable sacrifice to provide a far better chance for their children and in some cases, grandchildren.
Unfortunately, when the grandchildren are old enough to understand these sacrifices, both grandparents and parents are no longer around to tell what happened.
So many stories lost
Genealogy is really a gift to a (hopefully) inquisitive future, wrapped up in the loving efforts of a caring present to chronicle the daring and reckless travels of an adventuresome past.
And you are a part of it!
Write what you know, what you experience, your future will and can learn about you and from you.
Be more than just another photograph on that living room wall
Invoke memories, smiles, tears and laughter and you will create an endearing love of family history in your next generation.
[NOTE: To WordPress Techies — I type in BOLD font, but your service no longer allows it. When I do so, my posts come up blank! Please fix it, ASAP. Such is why I have not been writing much.].