Top 7 Reasons for Doing GenealogyWritten by Valerie Elkins
Why in the world would anyone want to do genealogy? Isn’t that for old ladies with blue hair? Oh, if I only had a nickel! Did you know that genealogy is the 2nd most popular subject on the internet? I’d tell you what the number one subject, but it would make grandma blush. Here are 7 compelling reasons why someone might want to get started in finding their family’s history.
- First, you will learn how to spell genealogy and if that isn’t a big enough thrill for you, maybe you will enjoy all the fun responses from people when you tell them that you are genealogist. People will think you’re everything from a geologist to a gynecologist! I love telling people I find dead people. bwah ha haha!
- You will have a beautiful brain. It’s true – not long ago I had a brain scan done, my doctor said everyone in the lab was amazed and very envious of how young and healthy my brain was “for someone of my age.” Need more proof? According to researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, people who are actively using their minds in brain stimulating activities are less likely to have memory problems when compared to those who don’t do such activities.1 Trust me, nothing gives your brain a good workout like a good genealogy problem! And who doesn’t want a beautiful brain?
- You will have a greater understanding of geography, history, religion, politics, and will learn a whole variety of archaic words that will help you become a highly feared opponent on Jeopardy, or at least be a much sought-after help for crossword puzzlers or highly valuable homework helper should the internet be offline. You can become a human search engine!
- The Africans have a proverb - when an old [person] dies a library burns. You can singlehandedly become the preserver and curator of your family’s collective memory and heritage. You can save your ancestor’s “libraries”!
- You will learn that there is one in every family. You know the ones I mean, the crazy cat lady aunt, the never-do-well uncle, the child that marches to a different drummer. Not only is it oddly reassuring, but the amazing thing is how you learn to love the oddness and embrace the crazy. Why? Because when you know their stories, they aren’t just some strange ancestor – they are yours. And just remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” Their stories will leave you plenty to quote from. You will be the hit of the party or the reunion!
- When you share your family history stories with your children and grandchildren, they will experience greater self-esteem and have a greater sense of their personal strength and ability. Emory University researchers reported that "Family stories provide a sense of identity through time, and help children understand who they are in the world.”2 In today’s world, kids today need all the self-esteem, confidence and personal fortitude as they can get. You can
fortify your posterity!
- The number one reason I think most people become addicted to researching their family history, besides the thrill of the chase and the call of the hunt, it is because it helps you understand yourself and those you love better. You will know what shaped your family and that helps you appreciate where you came from. We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us. The knowledge that we gain from the lives of our ancestors, helps raise the next generation a bit further and to see the future more clearly, as the lessons of the past are not lost, but are fuel to go further. You can leave a legacy!
What do you think genealogy can do for you?
1 Rebecca Melnyk, "Memory Declines Much slower in People Who Read, Write Throughout Life: U.S. Study” National Post >Life>Health (July 4, 2013); electronic edition, National Post (http://life.nationalpost.com/2013/07/04/memory-declines-much-slower-in-people-who-read-write-throughout-life-u-s-study/): accessed July 7, 2013), para. 2.
2 Beverly Clark and Beth Kurylo, "Children Benefit if They Know About Their Relatives, Study Finds,” Emory University News Release: Research (March 3, 2013); electronic edition, Emory University (http://shared.web.emory.edu/emory/news/releases/2010/03/children-benefit-if-they-know-about-their-relatives-study-finds.html#.UdoNYflBXjs): accessed July 7, 2013), para. 3.
Vlaerie is the CEO and founder of Advantage Genealogy and serves on the Board of Directors for both Story @ Home and for the Utah Genealogical Association. She utilizes her experience to blend research and technology with the art of storytelling, to help make the past come alive. Valerie believes that every family has an amazing family history full of stories of love and loss, guts and glory, victory and deafeat... along with a few skeletons in the closet. Finding those stories and learning to dance with them is her passion. Valerie is a Pinterest "pinja" and a blogger at Family Cherished. You can find Valerie on Twitter @elkinsvalerie.
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