A poster made between 1936 and 1939 by the Federal Art Project, promoting reading as an adventure. Courtesy of The Library of Congress National Archives.
The first lesson I learned on the path of family history: Not everyone cares as much as you.
I naively thought my family would get great joy and have overflowing interest in my discoveries. That they would wait with bated breath for my next phone call or email. Well, only a handful actually had those feelings, and the rest just wonder why I’m wasting my time. They think that—once again–I picked an oddball hobby, only practiced by the strange and unusual.
For instance, I have another hobby that has its basis in historical research. I read up on, and in some cases replicate, things like pieces of medieval stained glass, books of hours and textile arts. Research: it just makes me giddy; maybe I should have been a librarian after all. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I’m able to surround myself with like-minded people from my hobby on a near daily basis. To my delight, I discovered over the last year that the genealogy bug has also bitten many of my friends, and they were more than happy to talk and talk and talk about it. This shouldn’t have been a surprise: We all love history, research, documentation and talking. Oh yes…we can gab.
These random talks online and in person saw my group of genealogy friends grow and grow. It was so exciting to have people to talk to and share stories with. You know the ones, those “Squee!” moments that no one else seems to understand. Soon, I was sharing stories, having adventures and building new genealogy relationships with people I already knew.
This past spring someone suggested that we all get together and share with one another—a sort of genealogy meet up. A meeting of friends to discuss genealogy and nothing else?! Count me in! After several months we had our first date set in August, and 12 people came on a rainy Sunday afternoon. There was an array of experience represented: a few who have done genealogy for decades, all the way to a couple of people who wanted to know how to get started.
It was fascinating to learn about everyone’s families. There were recent immigrants and colonials, upper crust and working class, county folk and urbanites. Every facet of America was represented in the room. We shared our stories of why and how we started down the road to discovering our family history and what we wanted to accomplish from it. A few cousin connections were even made through the numerous New England roots.
I’d been unable to attend the local genealogy society meetings, so I guess we just made our own! Creating an informal, and unofficial, group of like-minded individuals was not such an outrageous idea. We are all friends, with similar interests and passions, who had a grand ol’time talking with one another about everything and anything genealogy. Since we each have a thirst for knowledge, and years of experience researching odd and obscure things, it was bound to happen eventually… right?
The best part is that we have already made plans to meet up again in a few months. We’ll be ready to share, explore and discover our families together once again. I can’t wait!
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.
Want to share your own research with family, friends and fellow genealogists? Preserve your memories with a Family Tree Legacies album, on sale for $19.79!