How to spark a passion for genealogy in the next generation

How to spark a passion for genealogy in the next generation

If you’re a genealogist, you may encounter people who don’t understand your passion for family history.

A typical question, when they see you logging into FamilySearch or poring over black-and-white photos: “Why are you into that stuff?” Or: “Who cares about those old photos?” And when you try to explain, their eyes glaze over.

This dismissive attitude can hurt when expressed by close family members. Especially children or grandchildren … don’t they understand the importance of the research? And if no one close to us cares, will all our hard work be forgotten?

But not everyone is dismissive. And sometimes, shared stories or documents or photos or charts do light a spark. You can see it in the way they lean forward to get a better look, or ask questions.

genealogy spark

“Who is she?”

That’s what our daughter asked when I showed her the above photo of her great-grandmother at the same age, the young woman’s expression on the old sepia photo drawing her in. It was only a brief flicker … but possibly a spark that burns slowly, and may eventually burn bright when she’s ready to follow her curiosity further.

The spark can also be lit in more distant relatives. I was heartened when a second cousin’s husband took an immediate interest in some research I had prepared. Another distant cousin’s wife was so impressed, she asked for copies of genealogy charts and records for all of her children.

Thanksgiving is coming up, a time when families come together. Celebrate this important holiday, and use the opportunity to light a new spark of interest in family history.

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