02 January 2014

Thankful Thursday - Why Are YOU A Family Historian/Genealogist?

I thought this was worth revisiting. Much has changed since this was written. There is still healing to do, but we function as the team we are and we've learned to accept what we cannot change or control. The time we spend together has increased significantly, taking away time that I had been researching and writing. I'm going to try to create a better balance, a more even flow, and hope that readers will come back (the significant drop in views has been noted) with the re-focused slant to archives and genealogy with a less 'personal' touch.  

29 April 2012 - Why Would You Want to be A Genealogist

When I started this blog, I honestly didn't think anyone would be interested in knowing about my journey. I've been very pleasantly surprised about the support it's received. So many people have taken the time not only to read what's in this space but also to comment about it as well. For that, I am incredibly grateful. What's more, I've discovered not only am I sharing my journey, I'm uncovering myself in the process. 

As those of you who regularly read this blog know, I am sans family. Well, not completely without family, but I don't have children. It wasn't a choice but a medical condition that prevents me from having kids; my husband is not comfortable with adoption. When I first found out I shouldn't have children, I was devastated, but never shared that with anyone. It wasn't 'me' to share my feelings (hard to believe, right?!). Years past, and like any loss, the pain eased a bit. But I find that not having the opportunity to have children, as I so deeply want, has had other unexpected and sometimes unwanted consequences. 

My husband comes from a large family. He has four siblings and as of today, we have seven living nephews and nieces (one is deceased) ranging in age from 34 to 4 and seven grand- nephews and nieces. When I first met my husband, everyone was very close and we spent the vast majority of our free time with them. We were present at the births of three of our nieces and nephews, a privilege I never thought I'd have. We cared for our 'middle' nieces and nephew like they were our own, because in many ways, they were the closest thing we'd ever get to knowing what it feels like to have our own family. 

But, as with so many families, there was a disagreement. There was a member of the family who, quite frankly, didn't want to BE a part of the family. That person considered their family to just be a spouse and children. Didn't want the 'intrusion' of the rest of the family. So, this person systematically took down an entire family. It's incredible to look back on the series of events and realize that's what was happening. When it was all said and done, last summer, my husband's family fell apart to the point siblings pointed fingers at each other and said they were no longer siblings. How very, very sad. 

Over the last seven years or so, we stopped going to his family functions because they were just too awkward; frankly we'd stopped receiving invitations to things. My husband was always a bit philosophical about these kinds of things. I have to claim my feminine qualities for taking it much more personally; for admitting that my heart broke a little more each day we were pushed farther and farther out of the family. 

At the same time last summer my husband's family was splitting apart, my parents fulfilled their dream of moving to Arizona. While they've settled in and seem happy, my Mom has had a number of medical challenges, including two stays in the hospital. I don't have the financial resources to go back and forth to Arizona, so I haven't seen them in almost a year. Just last week Mom had to go back to the emergency room; my first thought was I just wanted to be there to hold her hand. I struggle with feeling guilty that I'm not there to take care of them at a time in their lives when they really need me. Except they chose to be in Arizona and are happier there than they were when they lived here.

I made a profound realization this week. The timing of my decision to restart my genealogical journey came squarely at a time when I felt abandoned by my family. I threw myself into my genealogical research and I decided to start this blog. I recognized, as an Archivist, that there simply is not enough education out there for family historians and Genealogists about how to properly care for and manage their own collections and I want to fill that void with the knowledge I've acquired. I brought people into my circle and I tried to get on a solid path to creating an archival and genealogical services business. Having worked in the financial industry, I recognized that keeping your business and personal lives separate is a key to success. But in the Genealogical world, those lines aren't so clear cut.

The other aspect of my realization is that, feeling abandoned by my family, I tried to create a family rather than a business. I so desperately want to be a part of a family that I subconsciously created one where one didn't exist. I put expectations on people that were incredibly unfair, and in so doing, harmed potentially beneficial relationships. Only time will tell if this tactical stumble will hurt me in the future with my business; I hope that my passion for the stories our ancestors have to tell and the desire to preserve the physical remnants of those stories will be what people remember. I am a skilled technician and an exemplary researcher; I have a significant drive to share that with others. 

I felt the need to share this story here because someday I hope that someone researching their family will have a greater understanding of why I'm so passionate about being a Genealogist. (As I say to myself) It's a family, dummy. 

Why did YOU become a family historian or Genealogist? I'd love to collect your stories too...


  1. Laura,

    I think time can heal everything, both personal and professional.

    I too have cut off a large portion of my family and spend most of my time with the hubby's family. I am thankful everyday for them. I know without them, I would not have the large family events for all of the holidays.

    As for friendships in the community, I know that things happen and we can learn from all of it. I recently learned that just reaching out and saying the simple, "I'm sorry" goes a long way. I thought I had completely ruined an important relationship I had and after many months, I was able to take a few minutes to say those two words and move things forward. There are many in the community who are loving, helpful and willing to be there for you. Then there are others...

    I hope that things change for the positive and hope your Mom is doing better.

  2. Hi Laura,

    I started to research my family tree with my sister about 13 years ago. There was a time period where I had to put it on the back burner after I moved overseas, moved back to the states and then returned overseas. I get very homesick and miss my family, especially my parents who are deceased. I have contact with a few immediately family members and I am closer to my mother's side of the family than my father's. It was his great-grandfather's picture which hanged on my grandmother's living wall that sparked the genealogy bug. The last four years, I have been doing research non-stop. It makes me feel productive and curbs some of the homesickness. I had expectations that it would bridge the gap between me and my extended family and prompt healing. Except for a few immediate family members mostly on my mom's side, it seems I have more success with distant cousins who are interested in genealogy and willing to share family history with me. When disappointed at the lack of other family participation, I remind myself that I am doing this for myself, my son and my descendants. Plus, I can draw on the knowledge and support of the genealogy community. These are some of the most kindest and generous people I have come across who are unselfish and eager to provide assistance in all areas. Like you! I thank you and them for all that you do.

    1. Tara, thank you so much for your comment...for sharing your experience! I do know what you mean about the research keeping you feeling productive; when I feel 'lazy' I just head over to once of my genea-sites and start to work. I'm very happy that you enjoyed my post and hope that you'll keep reading. :-)


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog!