Earlier this year, the local newspaper did an article on my business. The photographer had remarked that he had to go take a picture of a “little old lady who does genealogy and stuff.” I’m not quite sure what he thought when he showed up to see a mom of two teens with long auburn hair wearing Converse.
The experience had me wondering…why do people automatically jump to “old lady” when personal historians, genealogy, and history are mentioned? Am I weird or something to be so geeky passionate about this subject matter? Sure, many of the folks who do that work are older, but I’ve seen an equal number of younger people taking on the family history torch with gusto and flair and creativity.
I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to be able to put together puzzle pieces that allow you to create a complete and validated family line back to the 1700s or farther. I get giddily excited when a new ancestor is uncovered, and even more so when the stories around them remain intact. Getting family photos scanned and saved digitally makes me sigh with relief, because they won’t be so easily lost or damaged. Helping people to remember their stories and encouraging them to write them down brings me deep joy.
If I find a handwritten letter from a great-grandmother to her husband or child, I’m hungrily reading it, eeking out what information this precious document might contain and how it sheds light on her personality and daily life. How did she write? What words did she use? What color of ink did she use? What’s the paper like? What is she discussing in her letter? How did she sign her name?
I’m just going to say it…this stuff is fun for me. And when I speak to others who are working on their own storied pasts, I can hear the excitement rise in their voices, and I can see that spark in their eyes going off. They want to know. They want to learn about who came before, and what it was like “back then.” They want to know what ties they hold to the past, and where their roots lie.
Everyone has a passion. This one is mine.