I confess. I enjoy a bit of genealogy on the side. It’s the sort of thing you don’t mention in polite company or at a party unless you want to be parked alone with the other “I prefer anti-social activities too” person.eliza-baker

The addiction (there I’ve said it) all started when I wanted to know some more about my paternal grandparents. At first, it was only a search engine on a births, deaths and marriages database. 

Before I knew it, I found there were people who could supply me with the stuff – photos, certificates, links to parish records, the location of graveyards and headstones!  Then the highs got higher. Padded envelopes began to arrive in the mailbox.  Late at night I’d fall upon some quality hits after hours of wading through non-descript material.  Days were lost in the Mitchell Library.

The sources lead to newspaper reports and obituaries, juicy postings of adultery, shipping voyages and military service records, crimes and convicts, and accounts of lives shortened by misadventure and laborious work in coal mines and cotton mills.

What hooks me is the stories. It’s like putting together pieces of a puzzle that help explain why you are who you are today because of the lives they lived.

I’m not interested in rehabilitation. These stories will be written and the prospect of sharing the highs with others in my gene pool is, well, addictive.

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3 comments until now

  1. The last time I had a conversation about lineage and genealogy, I was on a walk with my father and one of my uncles.

    They’re both 10+ inches shorter than me. Both were wearing purple shirts printed with some graphic created by an aunt her favorite cause. Both were laughing with the same tone and eyes that don’t really look at things directly.

    I didn’t feel like I was connected to these men with their stories about horse thieves and and wives from distant lands.

    Perhaps I’m simply interested in people. Will I be more interested in where I came from when I have less life ahead of me?

  2. Only time will tell. In the meantime, keep up those live connections with people that you make so well.

  3. Like you I’m addicted to the stories. :)

    So many stories were shared by my mother and father before they passed away – most of which reside only in my head now. They’ve not been recorded or shared except verbally with other family members.

    I do have about four hours of tape-recorded stories of my father’s experiences in WWII though, and your post is a fresh reminder that I must do something about transcribing those! Something I’ve been intending to do since he died – at first too painful to listen of course, but now with enough time passed it’s something I’d be ready to do. Just have to make the time!

    Thank you.

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