Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Everyone Has a Different Story

It may seem like all of us who are fascinated with genealogy are cut from the same cloth. To get a good look at us—scanning the audience at a genealogical conference, for instance—it seems we are a pretty homogeneous group. Taking the time to get a closer look, though, I think no two of us are alike. It seems like each one has a different story of how he or she got involved in genealogy—and why we pursue it.

Although our local genealogical society takes a break from our meeting schedule during the month of December, some board members and committees still keep working on our projects. Since my local society was just given an opportunity to promote our county's First Families program at the library, four members got together last night to work on plans.

During the meeting, we discussed what genealogical goals each one of us had, personally. While endeavors like joining D.A.R. were a common thread—there obviously are going to be some goals we all share—there was a surprising spread in the variety of genealogical interests held by these members.

One woman mentioned her delighted surprise in discovering a direct family line stretching back to a king of England. Another bemoaned her lack of royal blood and more likely connection to mere Russian peasants. There was talk of Cajuns and Acadians and les filles du roi, all mixed in with work on the genealogies of people who had settled in our own county since its formation.

Even when considering how each of us got started in our genealogical pursuit, I suspect there are almost as many variations to that story as there are people taking up this passion.

While it is certain that not everyone in the world has an interest in genealogy, in this world of genealogy, I am learning that, though we are all researching genealogy, each one of us can tell a different story.

Perhaps that's what is behind the proliferation of genealogy blogs: people want to tell their family's story. They want to share what they've discovered. And then—hopefully—to connect with others interested in the same family lines. Looking at the stories already published in this wide array of genealogy blogs—according to Geneabloggers mastermind, Thomas MacEntee, now approaching three thousand in number among English-speaking participants—it is easy to see the many twists and turns that go into how each family's story shapes up.

Perhaps it is those endless permutations that make genealogy so fascinating. It's not just the call of the ego—this is my family's story—but the theme and variations of the story of generations. It's that fingerprint of identification that weaves my descendant-of-mere-Russian-peasants story differently than it does yours.

Sometimes, it's not just the content of our story—the finding of our ancestors and all the details belonging to them—but the process of the story, as well. Not just the who-did-it, but the how-did-it, too. And meshing the two stories together brings yet another aspect to the picture, strengthening the narrative.

Above: "Arrival of the Brides," by British artist, Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for the heads-up, Iggy! Yeah, they are...but at least I don't get hit with too many of them. Most of them get inserted in old, old posts anyway, so usually not as visible as this one. Oh, well, the "delete spam" button works wonders--as long as I find the stuff in the first place!

  2. I don't consider by blog to be "Genealogy" - but it is a record of sorts of my family - what I ought to do sometime is tag all the post that are "family moments" so that I can see what comes forth from thousands of posts.

    1. Tagging is helpful for that big picture approach, that's for sure...but yours is going to be a pretty BIG picture, isn't it? Aren't you going on nine years blogging? That's phenomenal!

  3. I am not technically genealogy either but might be considered as such someday:)

    1. Your blogs have a broad focus in one respect, Far Side, but you certainly have included much material, over the years, that tells the story of your family's history. And your Forgotten Old Photos blog certainly has helped out immensely with other people's genealogy!


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