The Genealogy Community

Genealogy, for the most part, is a solitary hobby. You sit at a computer and look for ‘your’ family online. You head off to the library, cemetery or archive for a day of research to find ‘your’ family. You correspond with others largely by email – so you get my point. It is usually a hobby that is yours … something YOU do.

But as with everything, there are exceptions, and you might be lucky enough to have a friend of family member to hang out with and help you along the way, but most of us don’t. But that doesn’t mean that genealogy is a lonesome hobby. NOT AT ALL. In fact, quite the opposite.

While we might do our research alone, there is this wonderful thing called the “genealogy community”. This is an amazing group of people who are there to share in your excitement, and frustrations, offer advice, and generally just be there for you when you need (genealogy related or otherwise).

For those who haven’t get seen or experienced the “genealogy community” you can find them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and so on). Follow them, learn from them, comment on their posts, share them and encourage them.

How do you find people to follow? Do you read genealogy books or magazines? If so, who are the authors? They are all on social media, so why not start by following them? Do you watch genealogy on YouTube, or webinars or listen to podcasts? What about your local genealogy society? Go and find them on social media, and follow. Want more … use the hashtags #genealogy or #familyhistory and see what comes up. I guarantee you’ll find more people to follow … but also don’t forget #oldphotos and #cemetery are great hashtags to find like-minded people to follow too.

This way you will build up a group of people to follow on social media – to learn from them, to find out the latest products, to hear what event are coming up … and when you get the chance to meet them in person, it really is super exciting. And that’s what I found happened again at RootsTech in Salt Lake City recently (yes, I do still need to write a report on that for you … soon, hopefully).

Anyway I was reminded of just how wonderful the genealogy community is. Being an introvert and going to a conference with 20,000 or so people might sound daunting. But for me it is such a buzz. Each time I go, I make a few new friends, and get to catch up with others I’ve met before from all around the world, which is awesome. Facebook is good, but it doesn’t beat meeting up in person, and just having a chat.

So if you haven’t yet, I urge you to discover and join the ‘genealogy community’.  Working in a genealogy bookshop, I still come across people who’ve been researching alone for 10-20-30 years, who have never been to a genealogy group, have never been to any society meetings, and in reality didn’t know that they even existed, let alone all the online collaborative help opportunities that are available now. So don’t do family history by yourself forever. There is a whole community out there who is willing to help you, and I guarantee you’ll find some friends …

Genealogists Are “My Tribe”

I recently saw a reference where a person was saying that they were part of a tribe. Not in the traditional sense of the the meaning tribe, but rather that they had an affiliation with a group of people with a common interest.

Well if that’s the case, genealogists are “my tribe”.

So what makes me say this?

For one thing geniepeeps understand why we do what we do. Those in my tribe understand that you can get up (or still be up) at 2am and finally get that breakthrough with a record that you’ve been searching for for the past seven years. But of course you can’t wake the non-genies in the house to share your excitement, but you can shout it out loud on social media to your geniefriends around the world, and THEY TOTALLY UNDERSTAND.

Fellow genealogists understand that a day out for a drive usually involves visiting a cemetery or two along the way. And that a holiday is normally planned around ancestral places you’d like to visit, or archives that may hold vital records relevant to your research.

They understand the excitement that a certificate brings, and they understand when you get a day (or week) off, that that is RESEARCH TIME. Who cares about the housework, filing, getting the car serviced and so on, research comes first.

But mostly I claim them as “my tribe” because they are my friends and mentors, who are helpful, inspiring and a very welcoming bunch of people.

Wikipedia’s definition of tribe states:

“A tribe is viewed, developmentally or historically, as a social group existing before the development of, or outside, states. A tribe is a group of distinct people, dependent on their land for their livelihood, who are largely self-sufficient, and not integrated into the national society.”

Ok so it might not be technically correct describing my geniefriends as “my tribe”, but I reckon anyone would agree that we are a “group of distinct people”, in one way or another, and I’m proud to have them as my friends. And back in 2013 I even wrote about how wonderfully welcoming they were when I first went to the US.

Genealogists, my friends, my tribe.