Genealogy: The Smart Hobby

Genealogy: The Smart Hobby

What Is A Hobby?

I’m not sure I have ever had a hobby. I just do things I like to do! I also have a sneaking suspicion that hobbies were invented in order to combat the biblical quote about “idle hands” If a hobby is something we do to just to keep ourselves busy then count me out. It sounds too much like housework! No, a hobby should be enjoyable, enriching and energising!

What Is A Smart Hobby

I was playing around with Ms Google, trying to decide whether or not I was a genealogist or a family tree maker. I came across an article by Nabin Paudval. It seems there are two sorts of hobbies. Ones that make you more intelligent and ones that don’t. His list of smart hobbies included

Women sitting at computer looking happy. Depicting finding a smart hobby.
Finding A Smart Hobby
  • learning a new language
  • learning to play an instrument
  • meditation
  • playing a sport
  • exercise yourself
  • exercise your brain
  • read, a lot
  • write about your feelings
  • travel to new places
  • cook different food

I have only been a genealogist/family historian for a short time and I realised that, apart from playing an instrument, meditating and taking up a sport, I have been actively engaged in every one of these hobbies! My research has seen me learn the language of “Old English” in the form of place names. I have traveled to new places to visit cemeteries. Walking along small country roads has replaced my treadmill. My reading has grown widely outside my norm. I have written and shared my stories with strangers and cried as I wrote them. When I discovered an old recipe book I cooked “Spotted Dick” that overcame me with forgotten childhood memories. My brain has been exercised to the point of exhaustion as I try try to unravel the many, Samuels, Esthers and Thomases from each generation of Adcocks and Broomfields.

Conclusion: Genealogy is definitely a “Smart Hobby

When Genealogy Goes Wrong

A sea and cave seen with the quote: Genealogy: starts as an interest, becomes a hobby, takes over as an obsession. Depicting when genealogy goes wrong.
When Genealogy Goes Wrong

There are many things that can go wrong with the practice of genealogy and I should know as I have made most of them! However, one of the main concerns I have heard is that,“It can take over your life!” Now, if your are lucky enough to be enjoying your “golden years” as I am, the one thing you have in abundance is time. But, if you are still at the stage of juggling career and family commitments your experiences will be vastly different. Then, a conflict of interests and guilt are the more likely outcomes should your smart hobby moves from an interest to an all consuming obsession! The solution lies in how you practice genealogy. With a little bit of smart thinking to go with your smart hobby you can make genealogy a family affair.

A child's drawing showing members of a family standing in front of a house. Depicting genealogy as a family affair
Genealogy: A Family Affair

Making Genealogy A Family Affair

Photograph of an elderly women talking to a group of young children in front of a gravestone. Depicting genealogy for children
Genealogy For Children

My grandchildren range from 3 to 23 and, as I was giving this idea some thought, I kept each of them in mind. I knew that what was likely to engage one could just as easily been scorned by another. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Most genealogists search for their family history via online records so computer skills are high on the list. My advice would be to ask for help to find one specific ancestor. We all like to feel needed!
  • Make one day a month a heritage trail. Searching for local history in cemeteries, church records, old homes and schools.
  • I have a grand-daughter who is a whizz with the camera. Her photography skills have been honed by the input of professionals giving courses at school and, perhaps, by the fact that different age groups see things differently even through the lens of a camera!
  • Even the budding scientist in the family has the chance to shine with their specific skills. DNA, centmorgans, autosomal and x chromosomes are an ideal school project when linked to a personal family tree.
  • For the artist in the family the choices are abundant. Scrapbooking can be hands on with cards, ribbons, lace and material. On the other hand the graphic designer in your family will be indispensable for digital scrapbooking
  • My personal favourite would have to be the road trip. If you want any road trip to be successful then family involvement at the planning stage is essential. Fun days, lazy days, active days and genealogy days are sure to cater for everyone.
Image of a toy volkswagon sitting on a road map with a route traced on it. Titled the genealogy road trip.
The Genealogy Road Trip

Genealogy Benefits For Adolescents

Each family will have their own anecdotal stories as to the benefits of turning a personal hobby into a family hobby. But for those of you (like me) who like to throw in a little bit of supporting academia nothing is more satisfying than readable research! I found one small piece that actually measured the positive outcomes for teenagers whose families valued and shared the knowledge of their extended families both past and present.

The research was called  “Do you know? The power of family history in adolescent identity and self esteem” and the sample measured the responses of 66 teens aged between 14-16 years. The study found “higher levels of emotional well-being, and also higher levels of identity achievement even when controlling for general level of family functioning,” Like any new research the measurement scale has to be taken with caution until more research supports it (or not) in the future.

Quote: Family: coming together is beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success. Genealogy is a family affair.
Genealogy: Family Working Together

If any readers have comments to share about how genealogy works in their family please share.

2 thoughts on “Genealogy: The Smart Hobby

Add yours

  1. Very interesting post. But Vicki, I think you have been engaged in all those smart hobbies! You are a passionate sailor – a very active and demanding sport. You played guitar and sang in the Frayed Knots band did you not? Isn’t Tai Chi a form of meditation broadly speaking? You enjoy an active, fabulous retirement and I admire you for all you achieve. Helen x

    Sent from my iPad



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