Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States, especially in the age of the Internet when it’s so easy to pop online and look for ancestors. But good genealogy is more than just name-gathering, more than just filling in dates and moving on to the next person. And it’s certainly more than seeing a name on a tree and deciding it’s your person without evaluating the source for the information.
Genealogy is about family history. Humans are social people who live in families and communities. Understanding their circumstances means digging into the history of their place and time, puzzling out the details to craft the stories of their lives. Each life event has the potential for a record: births, deaths, marriage, jobs, buying and seeing property, immigration and citizenship, military service – but also newspaper articles that show an ancestor’s involvement in Masons or church or community or, or, or …
There is always more to learn, another database to search, another picture to identify, another document to scan. Conducting genealogical research is at once fun, fascinating, and frustrating; patience is definitely required. Finding a birth record from 1811 is an exciting moment, especially after hunting off and on for 15 years. But you can also search, stop, and start again as time and circumstances permit.
Genealogists love to share their stories, tips, discoveries, and challenges, and we love to help others get started and learn more. Have questions? just ask!