My Tangent - Why Genealogy?

30 November 2009


Genealogy is sort of boring, isn’t it? I mean it’s not every day that you pick up a newspaper or magazine, or check out a website or blog just to get your genealogy fix… that is unless you are a part of a small percentage of this world's population. I suppose genealogy really has to turn you on in order to delve into the unchartered, (unchartered to you, that is), realms of your ancestors’ lives and into the places from where they came from. Genealogy has to turn you on that you really would prefer to following your passion to the dismissal of cooking, errands, work, reading, and anything thing else necessary for day-to-day-living.

I’m trying to think, today, exactly what it is that has me so obsessed with this genealogy thing. Why do I spend the majority, and I mean the majority of my waking, as well as should-be-sleeping hours affixed with finding the next bit of information of some past ancestor or some relative that I probably never met or even knew about? In that matter, probably some relative or long-past cousin I would never have had anything to do with. The powers-that-be do say that “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relatives.”

Ask yourself, if you’re reading this, “Why do I want to know more about my family past?”

From Genealogy I found seven points published as to the most popular reasons one may research his or her family history. I thought I would answer each as it may pertain to me. (Obviously I can’t answer for anyone else…) Here goes:

  1. To satisfy your curiosity about yourself and your roots? No.
  2. To provide your children with a sense of who their ancestors were, where they came from and how they lived their lives? No.
  3. To preserve family cultural and ethnic traditions for future generations. No.
  4. To compile a medical family history to give family members an advantage in the battle against inherited diseases or defects? No.
  5. To qualify for a lineage or heritage society. No.
  6. To assemble and publish a family book, whether for family members or for profit. No.
  7. To discover facts that others have overlooked and solve the puzzle of a lifetime. No.

Well I failed that test. I didn’t blatantly start into genealogy and family history research for any of the above seven reasons. That’s not to say that today I continue to pursue my search efforts for all the above reasons. I am obsessed, point-blank. I can see myself realizing the benefits of all the reasons, and I’m sure many more.

In my past I detested English and History as subjects in schools. They were always scraping the bottom of my grade-levels. I was into Maths and Sciences, Arts and Languages. Then I got my first degree in English. This Genealogy has me reading of histories of areas, people, industries, occupations, politics, and so on. I’m writing continually. Genealogy may have had a positive influence.

And I’m now providing connections to family and friends the world over. And because of today’s technology and telecommunications I’m amazed at the locations that people are constantly checking in.

Maybe it’s my age now… Is there a magic age that triggers an interest in genealogy? Maybe it’s the coupling of today’s technology with the data and information of the past? Could be the thrill of the search and the joy of the find?

Well, now I now that my eyes don't cloud over when I hear the word "Genealogy"."




Anonymous said...

Hi Jim

I agree wholeheartedly with your article. I have recently commenced family history research of my "Crossley" family and am totally obsessed!

Not sure if our "Crossleys" are intertwined but would be interested in hearing from you. My email is

Maureen (South Australia)

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