Saturday, June 20, 2015

What a Wild Week it Was

With the official start of summer this weekend—to say nothing of the celebration known as Father's Day—one would think this was the time made specifically for adventure, vacationing, or, at the very least, idyllic relaxation on the hammock in the backyard. However, the adventures that make up the usual summer vacations—road trips or water sports or hiking cool mountain trails—are not part of my schedule for the foreseeable future.

If you are taking time off to enjoy the best of the summer, good for you. All the more enviable if you are managing to insert some genealogical road trip action into your itinerary.

Meanwhile, I'll be back at home, somehow busier than usual. As a member of the board of our local genealogical society, I've been teaching beginning genealogy classes at our local library. Also, just this week, we launched our First Families program, which requires training classes for those interested, as well—so, along with our president, I've been teaching that repeating session at the county's historical society. Plus, this week began our beginner's lab class on genealogy for "OLLI"—the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. And I'm working on plans for launching a new beginner's series of classes at the local community college. Oh...and we just had our June genealogy society meeting.

I couldn't believe I found myself saying I was glad the society "goes dark" for a summer recess. I guess I need a vacation, too.

I find it amazing that that old harangue about people no longer gathering in communities has resurfaced again. You know—the old Bowling Alone syndrome. The charts and statistics in our faces about how people are being so solitary and isolated and how that is no good for our society.

I also have to wonder about those analytic souls who thrive on the slightest indication of waning interest in genealogy. Granted, numbers do not lie...but we all know what has been said about statistics...

Meanwhile, back on the ranch—at least, the ranch out our way—there still seems to be a rising tide, when it comes to interest in genealogy. So many people just want to know. Whether it is adoptees, grasping at the hope that these new DNA tests will help reveal their hidden origins, or the newly-retired, wanting to leave behind a legacy for their young grandchildren, there still seem to be new folks showing up at the doorstep of our genealogical society, wanting to know how to "do it" for themselves. People still want to find their roots. And they want to be with people who care that they are discovering those roots.

Perhaps this is all thanks to the more widely-spread coverage of genealogical projects. In part, we can thank the number of genealogy programs on television, exposing larger numbers of curious onlookers to the rudiments of genealogical research. That's great. Oftentimes, though, it's the local societies which are the most accessible, when television audiences seek to recreate such amazing stories portrayed by the pros on the programs they've watched. Those audiences—most likely not educated to be "pros," themselves—need some hands-on training to learn enough of the ropes before they can replicate those results for themselves.

And so, society board members like myself find themselves in that tired-but-grateful role of teacher, mentor, coach and guide, as we pass along what others once taught us about finding our own roots.

It is indeed a rewarding adventure to embark on, summer vacation or anytime. And it is certainly just as rewarding for us who share those quests with such new seekers as come our way for guidance or instruction.

Above: "Birch Grove" by Russian landscape painter, Ivan Shishkin; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. It surely would have been helpful had there been a society around teaching how to do family research when I started in the early 90s. It was hit or miss for me.

    1. There's nothing like the personal touch, especially in education. In a state with as much history in their heritage as your home state, Wendy, I'm surprised there was no genealogical society! Here in California, our local society prides itself on having been around since 1952--but I know that is nothing in comparison to some societies back east.

      Regardless, you have certainly persevered and taught yourself what you needed to progress as much as you have. Kudos to you!

  2. You are such a great goodness don't burn yourself out. It sounds like you have a full schedule...and lots of people to help! :)

    1. Thank you, Far Side. It is indeed encouraging to meet all these new people with such an interest in genealogy--and to mingle with folks who actually seem to like to get together to share what they are learning!

  3. What would be karma would be one of those folks you are helping out turning out to be a cousin of yours!! And a DNA match to boot! :)

    1. It was fun, at the beginning of the month when I attended the Southern California Jamboree, to hear stories just like that: people meeting new friends who turned out to be distant cousins! Leave it to genealogists to discover details like that. Makes me want to wear a T shirt that lists all the surnames I'm seeking on the back!


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