Saturday, March 17, 2018
Time to Seize Our Day
It's Saint Patrick's Day. Whether you're Irish or not, I imagine you've found a way to wear the green—or be obstinate and don some orange—but I don't know if you've noticed something I've been seeing in the days leading up to today.
I know the saying is that "everybody's Irish" for a day like today—and chances are, the average American (not to mention a good number of the Aussies and New Zealanders and even the folks in jolly olde England) sports at least a tiny percentage of Irish ethnicity—but that is not what I've been noticing this week. What I'm seeing, reading between the lines in those DNA commercials and Saint Patrick's Day DNA sales, is the possibility that "everyone's doing it" when it comes to testing for ethnicity percentages and researching their Irish roots.
Find My Past is reminding everyone of the free research resources they offer from Ireland. Family Tree DNA urges you to "share the luck o' the Irish" with others among your family and friends through their own DNA sale. Ancestry.com, also boasting loads of Irish records, offers you free access to their Irish collections this weekend, as well as a DNA sale of their own.
The genealogy buzz is not limited to all things Irish, however. Lately, there's been public notices on everything from MyHeritage's pro bono offer to help reunite financially-challenged adoptees and their birth parents through DNA testing, to social media commentary on using genealogy in politics. Yes, politics: a freelance writer has figured out how to use her skills as an avocational genealogist to disrupt America's current congressional debate over immigration with "resistance genealogy."
It seems as if all eyes are on the genealogy world lately. If not all eyes, at least a significant portion of people in North America have wondered "what if...." What if, for instance, they can trace their family story back to the country of their immigrant ancestor's origin?
With that widespread interest comes the chance for those of us who already know we are fascinated with genealogy to become the catalysts to help launch others into this pursuit of our roots. It is far easier to invite others, say, to attend a genealogical society meeting, or participate in a family history day, or spit into a tube for a DNA test, even, than ever before.
No more of this grousing about how our societies are "dying" from lack of participation in the wake of "competition" from online giants. People all over are clamoring for a real, live person to help show them the ropes—how to get started on their own journey of discovering their roots. The online resources may be a boon for our research, but they can't take the place of person-to-person guidance, encouragement, sharing, crowdsourcing, and general cheering-on when it's time for the Genealogy Happy Dance.
This is genealogy's day. All this talk about being Irish, or pinning our ethnicity report to our social media pages isn't just about DNA testing. It's about people realizing how fascinating genealogy can really be. We may as well seize the opportunity. One never knows whether the newbie we are helping will turn out to be that distant cousin descendant of our brick wall ancestor.