Sunday, January 21, 2018

52 Ancestors - Longevity: "How long have you been doing genealogy?"

52 Ancestors - Longevity: "How long have you been doing genealogy?"
Mildenhall Warren Lodge, England, not far from where we lived.
This has been a hard post for me to write. Amy Johnson Crow had various suggestions in the prompt, all really great ones, but none of them really spoke to me.

So I thought I would bring the topic of longevity into the present day.

"How long have you been doing genealogy?" is something we read and/or hear every so often. Why do people want to know? What are they trying to gauge with that question?

For most of us, I think it's an inquiry showing polite interest and nothing more. My interest sparked when I was 12, for example, and I tried to research at the library without quite knowing what I was doing. Unfortunately, there was no one else in my family working on family history to guide me. So I began in earnest at 18, when I had a better understanding of what was needed to do this research and I've kept up with it ever since.

My sister just started this year after finding the results of hers and her husband's DNA tests fascinating. Her husband, my brother-in-law, is Africa American, so there's a whole lot of curiosity about finding the ancestors who came here willingly or by force.

Now, 25 years is not a long time. Others have been doing this far longer than me and some just started in 2017, like my sister.

Does the longevity of our time spent researching matter? Do we need to compare to each other?

I think not.

While I feel people with more experience (usually) have more knowledge to share, I also think we need to be open to what the people new to their passion for family history have to say. A fresh perspective can really help us change the way we look at a problem or question. They can raise concerns about how societies and groups can, perhaps, do things more efficiently.

I trust the experience of many respected genealogists. However, I am also open to trusting what someone newer to this interest has to share. So while many of us wear our numbers proudly for whatever it might be - i.e. number of books published, number of blog posts, number of years researching genealogy - I think longevity isn't necessarily everything.

It's certainly good indicator of experience and dedication, but let's also welcome people who don't have the impressive numbers behind their work, too. When someone says they just got into genealogy last year because they took an Ancestry DNA test it inspired them to learn more about their family, let's say to them, "That is great! We're so glad you're here!"

Copyright (c) 2018 Wendy L. Callahan

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