What comes to mind when you hear the word “genealogy”? Does it sound boring and time-consuming? Or, does it sound fascinating in the same way that solving a mystery or reading a historical novel can be?
Pedigree charts might sound fancy, but they’re really just family trees. If you think pedigrees are just for royalty, dogs, and horses, think again!
Here are the top 10 reasons why genealogy might be for you:
- Genealogy is fascinating and fun! Do you like puzzles? Mysteries? History? Family? No wonder it’s the #2 hobby in America! (Can you guess what #1 is? Keep reading to see if you are right.)
- It can bring your family closer together. Share your research (and photos and stories) with your family. Interview your elders before it’s too late. Teach your children about history in a personal way.
- Genealogy can be part of organizing for your legacy. Especially if you are the keeper of the family’s history.
- It combines well with other hobbies and interests such as reading, writing, travel, photography, geography, history, sociology, scrapbooking, etc.
- It will probably inspire you to organize your photos and keepsakes, as well as your vital documents (birth, marriage, and death certificates) and other important items. (HINT: You should organize your family history even if you don’t care about genealogy per se.)
- It’s free! Or, at least, it can be. Genealogy is available to anyone at any budget, including lots of free online resources. Try familysearch.org, google.com, and cyndislist.com for starters. Also, don’t forget free brick-and-mortar libraries, including LDS Family History Centers, which are open to the public. Here’s a free Family Group Sheet to get you started. HINT: Start with yourself and work backwards in time, one branch at a time.
- You can put your own twist on it. Did you know there are people who specialize in specific regions, ethnic groups, or religions? Some researchers focus on one-name studies (e.g. all Thorntons, related or not), or they specialize in military history, adoption, or property records (think house detective)! Such specialties can apply to professionals and amateurs alike.
- You can call yourself whatever you like: Genealogist, Family Historian, Ancestry Detective, Bloodline Sleuth, Family Tree Climber, Seeker of Dead Relatives, etc.
- You can do it yourself. Or, DIY with a little help. Read Puzzling Out Your Family History to learn about the pleasures and pitfalls of doing genealogy research. Even if you are already the family historian you might need some help organizing your photos and records.
- You can hire someone to help you or do it for you. A pedigree chart, in a family history binder, makes a great gift for yourself, or for a loved one! To learn more, read The Gift of an Organized Family Tree and Family History Research Services.
So wait, you ask, what is America’s #1 hobby? Gardening. (Did you guess correctly?)
If you are a genealogist, what do you call yourself (see #8)?
Are you curious about your roots? Do you have a family mystery to solve?
Please share what you love about it (or want to know) in the comments below!
Copyright 2017-2018 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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This could not be more timely. Thank you, Hazel, for the additional resources to use in my quest for family information on my husband’s Mother’s side of the family. No one, who is still living, seems to remember names or dates for anyone. Hopefully these resources will help me in my search.
Hi Karen, good luck in your search! And let me know if you need (or just want) my help!
I am so interested in this. Something I have been thinking about for awhile now. And love how it ties in to looking at photos too. I have gotten a lot of info from my parents with family names but really want to investigate and learn more. I will request the group sheet. Thanks for this – so timely.
You can also schedule a free 20-min call with me to discuss, if you need a nudge in the right direction! (See my scheduling tab.)
I loved learning about my ancestors when I was a teenager. This was before the software we use now. I get the opportunity to share it with my kids, nieces and nephews. Recently my nephew took a course in college and he had to make a family tree. I updated my info while I was giving him the info. and was able to update some information like occupations that I never filled in because he needed the info. It was so much fun!
It’s nice to have someone to share it with. My family is small and descendants are few. BUT putting one’s good, solid work online can be helpful to distant cousins we don’t even know! Also, the details, like occuption, make it so much more interesting.
I haven’t been one to do my own research into my family roots, but I love watching those shows on TV! Sometimes I’ll catch “Who Do You Think You Are?” on TLC and I think of you. Do you watch that show?
I do! That’s my favorite of all the genealogy shows. I think it’s because the celebrity star of each episode, although helped incredibly much, has a hand in discovering their own roots. And they go on location, as opposed to so many newbie genealogists who stick exclusively to their computers. So it’s like going on a journey with them.
I haven’t done this myself, but I am lucky to have someone on each side of the family who has invested significant time in this. Earlier in the year, when my daughter got married, my husband’s uncle called and got details about my son in law. He then sent them an updated family tree as a gift — so thoughtful and kind. They really enjoyed reading through it all, and then seeing themselves and their wedding photo at the end.
What a nice wedding gift! I feel sorry for people I think would enjoy genealogy but whose family trees have already been researched. Then again….it’s never really finished. There are always more generations, and more branches to become intrigued about the farther back you go! Or more personal details — color to fill in the bare branches, so to speak.
I have nominated myself as the family historian. Just this past weekend my siblings and I came across a few old documents among my father’s stuff and I was happy to give them a new home.
It’s a good feeling to know your family history is organized and preserved!
Not organized yet, but working on it!
I can tell from your post how much you love genealogy. I gather that you are the family sleuth. The descriptive names you came up with are hilarious. I like the “Seeker of Dead Relatives” one most. Both of our daughters had to do a family tree project in elementary school. The timing was great because all four of their grandparents were still alive to share stories and family history with them. My Dad was the one that was the keeper of the “tree.” He’s no longer alive, but he passed several documents along to me. When I closed up my parents’ home this past year, I found additional family history documents to add to our story. While I haven’t done anything official with any of this information, I do have it stored in one location. Who knows, there could be a hobby in the making?
[…] you think you might want to learn a bit more about genealogy Hazel’s blog post Top 10 Reasons Why Genealogy is for Everybody! might be the perfect read for […]
Thanks for linking to my blog post, Sherita! I enjoyed being a guest on your podcast. Link to podcast episode: https://www.photoswithsherita.com/featured-guest-hazel-thornton-organized-for-life/
Genealogy is not my thing, but I love the family tree that my sister researched many years ago, before today’s available technology. She worked many hours and went back 7 generations. She had a large plotter so was able to print out poster sized family trees for us all.
I guessed the #1 hobby was reading.