The Genealogy Journey

The newbie genealogist's resource for books, mags, databases, and -- of course -- any free research stuff to be found on the Internet.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Too Busy to Care Goes Both Ways

I’m here!

I’m so sorry for the long absence. I have a house on the market and a handful of projects, and I sometimes get overwhelmed. One of those projects is actually a genealogy product I’m developing, so I really have no excuse for being away for so long, but there it is.

Something that’s been going through my mind lately is this:

If everyone in the world were required to write down their basic information (important dates, education, homes, etc.) would genealogy even exist as a hobby? It strikes me as funny how hard we genealogists work to dig up information that would be so easy to know if only our ancestors had taken an hour to write down their pertinent facts.

But as I’ve heard over and over again, people back then didn’t think like that. My husband’s great aunt, in response to some “Why?” questions from us, replied, “I guess we all were so busy just living.”

There’s a flip side to this, as well. Not everyone is interested in family history. Even if one does have ancestor information, how many stories have you heard of family heirlooms (bibles, photographs, etc.) that have been separated from the family line through carelessness or indifference? (For a great site in finding lost family heirlooms, see Though I can’t understand why some people are charging to return these items to their rightful owners.)

I am woefully ignorant about how the Chinese worship their ancestors, but I can’t help thinking about how strange our genealogical obsession must seem. Like, “Why didn’t you just pay attention in the first place?” And that “you” pertains to our ancestors (why didn’t you write this stuff down, for God’s sake?) and ourselves (take off your headphones and listen to those old stories for once!).

~Mary Kaye