Family Reaction to Genealogy

May 6, 2009 at 3:07 am 9 comments

How does your family react to your doing family research? In my family, some strange things happen. Does this happen to you?

  • Your family roll their eyes when you say one word about the family research
  • Your kids ask you to plan your vacation routes on roads that do not go by any cemeteries or court houses
  • The video camera and voice recorder disappear when it is time to visit family members
  • The family present a contract for you to sign saying “NO Genealogy” in any form or fashion for 24 hours

Some families usually have at least one person, sometimes more, that do the genealogy. The others are:

  • The ones who don’t want to do the research personally, but love to hear about the results
  • The ones who will give you the information you ask, but from that point have no desire to learn more
  • The ones who have no desire to talk about or learn the family history for their own reasons
  • The ones who will do a little of the research, but not as addicted to it as you are
  • The spouse who resents the time spent on genealogy and not on them
  • It is important for those doing genealogy to realize the differences in their family members. Not everyone wants to discover “their roots” and have no idea why someone wants to learn about someone has who been dead for hundreds of years. While someone may not be interested “today” in discovering their ancestry, be patient. As they get older, the desire and curiosity of their heritage may immerge. Learn to know who wants to look at pictures, and who wants to learn about the story behind the pictures. Do not force it upon anyone, as it will not get you those questions answered you may need from them later.

    I recall one family I taught about their family history. This family had parents, four boys and a daughter. Out of them all, the father and one son were excited to learn about their heritage. To try and get information from the mother was hard. While the desire was there, she was so busy with family and work the time just could not be made to contribute. So, I am working with the father and son. When the mother has more time to dedicate towards her genealogy, I will then continue to work with her. People’s desire, dedication and priorities change with time, age, and availability. If this is true of your family members, take this into consideration and do not push for information.

    Some of you may be concerned about the elderly relative, who wishes not to discuss things from the past. You realize that time may be running out. All you can do is be patient and ask nicely for them to help you. Maybe approach them in a non-genealogical fashion. See if they would like for you to take notes as they relay their life story. As their story unfolds, the information you need may begin to unravel.

    Bored teens

    So remember, the person who is rolling their eyes at you at the mere mention of genealogy research,


    may be the very one calling you up for that same information when they are in their adulthood!


    Entry filed under: Bellaonline.

Family Stories The Family History Center

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. stephv73  |  May 6, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Oh, yes, I’m very familiar with these types of relatives! Most of mine fall under the category of “love to hear about it, and will gladly take copies of what you’ve researched to save for our own children and grandchildren, but can’t be bothered to do any research ourselves.” I don’t mind sharing my family research, obviously, but I’m the only one in my family who seems to take an active interest in genealogy. Several other relatives seem indifferent to it most of the time, but once in a while will ask me a question about a particular ancestor or ancestors. I only have one branch of the family who just won’t talk about anything–my paternal grandfather’s side of the family, who are of Irish ancestry, just don’t seem to want to discuss family history at all, and some of them actually get upset if they’re asked anything. So, I’m going it alone on the research for that particular family branch!

    Fortunately, my husband loves genealogy, so we do it together. That helps.

    Stephanie at the Irish Genealogical Research blog

  • 2. Richard  |  May 8, 2009 at 6:27 am

    To be honest, I wasn’t really that interested when my Dad first started researching. I thought what he found was good but never wanted to know more. He got back to the 1500s (before anything was online) when he worked nights a security guard. Now I am older, have my own life and family I love it, and talk to him about it alot. I also run my own research service – just can’t get enough of it!! So my advice is, never give up. You just never know the impact of what you are doing.

  • 3. Caroline Pointer  |  May 8, 2009 at 6:32 am

    My name is Caroline and I’m a genealogy addict! This post is so true. Personally, I don’t see how someone doesn’t want to know all the juicy details of an ancestor’s life…Oh well. You’re right, though, these are the same people who will be calling later and I’ll be ready to tell the family stories…


  • 4. Richard  |  May 8, 2009 at 6:41 am

    I agree when they are adults. I find it very odd when people aren’t interested at all in their own family but children are different. I can’t stop now. 😉

  • 5. Concetta  |  May 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I wanted to comment on this yesterday – sorry for the delay!

    I have most of my family here:
    The ones who don’t want to do the research personally, but love to hear about the results
    The ones who will do a little of the research, but not as addicted to it as you are

    A few here:
    The ones who will give you the information you ask, but from that point have no desire to learn more

    Just one or two here:
    The ones who have no desire to talk about or learn the family history for their own reasons

    And none here:
    The spouse who resents the time spent on genealogy and not on them

    Well, maybe a little. The spouse likes motorcycles a lot though – so we split our vices LOL.

    I think most people have at least one family member who’s hooked, but most lie in the “that’s interesting, dear” category when it comes to it. Plus, we have to remember that the last couple generations have been ones of tremendous disclosure – people didn’t always share their pasts like they do now. I find its always hardest to get the oldest people interested unless they see it as giving value to their life, not just photographing and copying information about dead people.

    What I have found to be the best tactic with even the most die-hard “genealogy is boring” crowd who usually hate even talking about it at all is to break out the family pictures. People talk and talk about pictures and its not “genealogy” – its “nostalgia” or “memories” or “background on the photo”. Its all about our frame of mind when we work with our family.

    Sorry for being so long winded! Your blog hit on a spot that most genealogists will experience more than once 😀

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