Do genealogy? Really?

Perhaps, it was Friday or maybe the day before… Becky (my wife) and I were discussing why I do genealogy work. More precisely, the question we were discussing focused on what advantages or benefits I (the genealogy fanatic) actually attain from my endeavors. Because, wealth most certainly was not among them.

Ahnentafel von Herzog Ludwig (1568-1593) Holzs...
Ahnentafel von Herzog Ludwig (1568-1593) Holzschnitt Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But in all seriousness, this posting is really nothing more than a catalog of my thoughts on this question/ topic. It is simply a topic I thought our readership might find interesting.  And, I thought it might be worthwhile for me to archive my ponderings here, as well.

Perhaps my reasons might provide others with some food for thought; or heaven forbid, these thoughts might even provide a bit of fodder for an argument or discussion. Having set the stage, here goes my initial list:

  1. I guess the primary benefit I derive from my genealogy work is the opportunity for self examination, introspection. In the time I spend doing this work, (endless hours, Becky might say) I have an opportunity to analyze how I feel about my life, my family, and my hopes for both. I have time to focus and contemplate on what was, and what might be.  Obviously, I don’t get any of the answers in “the what might be” category.  But, I do see or think of patterns that I never thought of before I did this type of work…
  2. Secondarily, genealogy affords me both the circumstance and time to examine my feelings about and towards others. I especially value my opportunity to examine the breadth and diversity of the human experience and existence, especially as it has involved and consumed my family over time. I enjoy examining the culture, history, and mores of those times and places I never knew, nor ever experienced.
  3. Thirdly, genealogy allows me to speculate upon the hows and whys around life’s twists and turns. How did we get to be in those circumstances? Why did things turn out that way? I am not certain that I ever arrive at an answer, but I enjoy the process of examination.
  4. I relish the opportunity to discuss and rationalize the options, dilemmas, problems and joys faced by my predecessors. I find their situation, when combined with the historical situations of their home place, adds depth and meaning to my view of history’s progress.  This research also helps me examine the complexity of the options they faced as individuals, societies, and families. Interestingly, this thought process also helps me appreciate the levels and depths of their sacrifices and choices, even when I personally might have an intellectual disagreement with what they did or chose…
  5. Ah yes and then, there are the joys of mystery and discovery, followed closely by their child, investigation. I continually marvel at what information and insight there is to be found.  Not to mention my joy and amazement at the vast number of options available to assist in genealogical and historical research. As a perennial data gatherer, there is a lot to be found and a dizzying array of tools being created daily, it seems, to support this discovery.

Yes, for me the discoveries can be amazing and the joy exhilarating.

Oh and did I mention, you also might find pieces and parts of your family and it history???