Tuesday 3 November 2015

What genealogy will your children and grandchildren do if you have finished it all?

In a blog post I read the other day by Lorine McGinnis Schulze in the Legacy News she made a comment I found intriguing, “… I often feel bad that I'm doing so much that I'm not leaving my grandchildren the fun of the hunt!

This, of course, assumes your children and/or grandchildren will be interested in the subject at all.

It seems almost everyone involved in family history societies these days is worried about what is going to happen to their group in the future, as old members decide they can no longer participate, or die off.

Recently, as the Editor of Relatively Speaking (the quarterly journal of the Alberta Genealogical Society), I have been involved in putting together an issue that had the theme of Youth and Genealogy. I had the pleasure of sourcing and now publishing articles from many authors who had a myriad of ideas about how to interest young people in family history. We even had three stories written by 11-year olds on research they did for a school project. It was all quite eye-opening although what the future holds for the AGS and other similar associations may still be up in the air.

Anyway, I thought about Lorine’s comment and came up with the following ideas:

1.      Family lines expand as each generation matures and gets married. For their children there are now two more lines in the family to learn about and, judging by the number of people active in family history research now, it is probable that many of the new branches will not have been studied.

In my own family, my aunt did an amazing job putting together information about my mother’s side but it was left to me to dig into my father’s ancestors.

2.      More data is continuing to be made available, especially on the Internet. We have only made a start in seeing important documents digitized so it is more than likely that there will continue to be a great deal of “new” information for our children and their children to look at and add to their family history library. As much as I have done in genealogy, I know there is still a great deal more to research – every month, it seems I find something new.

3.      As genealogical research expands, there are more and more groups of people getting together to do joint projects. This is partly because there is so much information to wade through but it is a direct result in so many more people being able to reach out to each other directly and almost immediately through social media.

4.      Anyone who thinks they have not made mistakes in their family trees needs to think again. As confident as I am in my work, my grandchildren might well find some additional information that will disprove some of my ideas. Judging by some of Lorine’s descriptions in her blog piece mentioned above, there could be many current genealogists whose work might be questioned by their descendants.

I am not worried that I will have found everything there is to find on my family. I am more concerned with who will take charge of all my books and files when I am gone, to preserve my years of work as well as that of my aunt and all the cousins who have helped out with their own data.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is the Editor of Relatively Speaking, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Genealogical Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated