Introducing…Genealogy! 8

Opportunities for Introducing Genealogy to the Un-inducted

You know the feeling.  You're on a high and you want to tell everyone around you that you finally found your 2nd great grandmother in the 1880 census...  But, most of the people that you tell just sigh and change the subject.

As genealogists, what we have to remember is that not a lot of people are interested in your genealogy – buuuuuut, they may be interested in their own genealogy!  There is a talent in getting people interested in genealogy.  Making it personal is a good place to start.  Try the “Just about everyone is descended from Royalty” approach – or the “There is no describing how proud you'll be when you discover their stories and what they survived” tactic 🙂 .  Of course, these tactics are for the hardcore complainers (i.e, they're dead! – why do you want to know about dead people – who cares?).  I have other tricks up my sleeve for people who may be mildly interested, but are too polite to denigrate genealogy.  They, in my opinion, deserve to be rewarded.  The following are things that I have done to get people interested in genealogy (yes, I know, I have no shame...)

There are certain opportunities that present themselves to me, when a little voice whispers in my ear and tells me, “Perhaps a touch of genealogy...”. Hehehe.

Baby Showers or after the birth of a baby are the perfect opportunity to get 'em young...  I recently read an article that said that “Children who discover their genealogy do better in school and have better self-esteem”.  What better way to grab the attention of a child then to present their parents with a framed copy of the baby's genealogy (just back to great grandparents on both sides) – and hope they display it on the wall of the child's bedroom.  I find that bringing a hammer and nail is a good accoutrement to the present – but I digress...

Class Projects are also an excellent opportunity to involve children in their genealogy.  I'm always on the lookout for the class project to “do your family tree”.  I get a lot of questions from mothers that I know about this project – but it's not so flattering when they start the conversation with, “Ugh, you know about that genealogy stuff, right?”.  At that point, I usually ask to speak with the child...  I have no patience for haters...

The Scout Badge for Genealogy is something that I am very familiar with.  I have been certified to work with the Scouts on their genealogy badges for the last six years.  If you are working with the Scouts – or plan to – it may be a good idea to become “certified” to help them get their badges (remember – get 'em young!).  It just takes some paperwork from the Scouts to enable you to do this.

In most families, Grandma's and Grandpa's “hung the moon” as far as their grandchildren are concerned.  So gather your most interesting stories about your ancestors and present them to your grandchildren in the form of bedtime stories, life-lessons, etc.  Make them interesting, mysterious – involve the child, “...and what do you think happened next?”  They may not be over-the-top interested now – but they will carry those stories with them forever.

I once had a girlfriend whose father died unexpectedly.  Both she and her mother were inconsolable.  After the funeral, she confided in me that there were so many things that she didn't know about his family and that knowledge had now died with him.  What do you think I did?  C'mon, you do too know!  I set about doing a detailed genealogy report for her that covered four generations of her fathers' family and presented it to her and her mother a few weeks later.  She still talks about it...

There are so many ways to introduce genealogy to the pubic at large – the possibilities are endless...

So, how do you spark an interest for genealogy in the people around you?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!  Please comment so we can all share and learn.





About Leslie (Gignac) Drewitz

Leslie (Gignac) Drewitz (PLCGS) is a graduate of the National Institute of Genealogical Studies, with a Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies - Librarianship and currently works for a suburban Chicago public library where she has overseen the Local History collection for the past 11 years; as well as their Genealogy Club, where she teaches and lectures. Lately, she has been named a curator at the Bloomingdale Park District Museum in Bloomingdale, IL, as well. She also does private contract genealogy. Leslie lives with her husband Michael; her four children, Ellissa, Trevor, Jon and Katie; and their wonder dogs, Harley, Birdie and Mr.B. You can contact Leslie by email, or on LinkedIn

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

8 thoughts on “Introducing…Genealogy!

  • Joanie Hanlon

    Leslie, I had to laugh when I read your post about “You’re on a high and you want to tell everyone around you that you finally found your 2nd great grandmother in the 1880 census…”. I had an opposite experience this week and no one understood: for 100 years my family thought my great great grandmother’s father was Dr. William Ross, founder of the Methodist church in Iowa. His home is where the first state judiciary met. Newspaper articles talked of my family attending Ross Family reunions. He never mentioned my g-g grandma, Drucilla Ross, but then again, he didn’t mention any of his children much. And, even tho I finally found Dr. Ross’ marriage to Drucilla’s mother, Phoebe Atherton in 1827, I confess, I put off the fact that Drucilla was born in 1821. It was on the list of things to follow up on. This week I finally found Dr. Ross’ obit from 1885. The only mention of family was his marriage to Phoebe CARTER, daughter of Benjamin Atherton. WHAT? Phoebe was married before? Dr. Ross isn’t my g-g-g-grandfather? I cried! I just lost an entire line of my family in one fell swoop! Who would understand? Now I have to find this mysterious Carter who is probably Drucilla’s father. And it sure makes more sense with my DNA results – there are many Carter connections and no Ross connections. Another reminder that we don’t always know what we think we know.

  • Mindy Morrison

    Last Christmas, I created a family history calendar for everyone in my family. Each month featured photos, document images, and story notes about the family and ancestors. Birthdays, wedding and death anniversaries were noted throughout the year. December was dedicated to the “Next Generation” with a large photo of all the cousins.

    I also created a blog to coincide with the calendar to share interesting stories and cool info I gathered through my genealogy research. I targeted my 20 – 35 year old sons and their cousins but even my 89 year old parents learned new tidbits along the way. My posts featured that month’s family/ancestors with more photos, images of handwritten letters, census clips, Google Maps, YouTube videos, etc.

    It was a year well-spent. I’ve been asked for another calendar for 2014 and am in the process of creating it with more goodies. To be honest, some relatives embraced my gift and others, not so much. But it pushed me to share my trove of great stories, write several nonfiction narratives, and to put flesh on the dry statistics. I have a better understanding of my ancestors, their place in history, and therefore, their lives. I connected with newfound relatives across the country who shared their information and sometimes, memories. It was a Christmas gift that lasted all year and, I hope, into the future.

    Thanks to IDG for all you do for me! I’ve learned so much from you and always look forward to your email.
    Mindy Morrison

  • Leslie

    Oh! Joanie! I feel your pain…

    There is nothing like that feeling, when you discover that the breadcrumbs left by family tales turn out to be false. Hopefully, to off-set this experience, you’ve discovered that your real 3rd g grandfather’s line was even more spectacular! Hey, don’t laugh! It could very well be true – just sayin’.

    A more serious approach could be the lesson that I learned the hard way, which is that I never incorporate ANY person into my genealogy/program without having two source citations to back up my research (which may have included that marriage certificate and your 2nd g grandmothers birth cert showing her parents). That’s it – that’s the key. It will definitely keep disappointments to a minimum – while making you a superstar!

    You may want to read my article in the September issue of “Going InDepth” our monthly digimag – it’s on page 7 and the title is “American Indian Heritage and Family Tales’” – this was my awakening to some of the falsehoods of “Family Tradition”. 😉

    Good luck in the future with your research – but I’m sure you won’t need it! You sound like you’re on top of things now! Great post!

  • Leslie

    Mindy, what a GREAT present – and don’t you fool yourself, if even ONE family appreciated your gift, you’ve done a great thing!

    Thanks for the “thanks” to IDG! We love to hear from our readers and as a writer, it’s such a compliment when a reader posts a comment and shares their enthusiasm for this obsession!

    Keep making those amazing presents – it’s obvious that they love them and YOU!

  • Marsha Bembry

    Could you clarify the Boy Scout “certification” process. My eleven year old nephew has become a Boy Scout and I was going to help him when he asked, but if I could do the whole troop, that would be even better. You can answer off line if you like.

  • LDrewitz Post author

    Hi Marsha! You can go directly to the Boy Scouts of America site and download the application. If you have any problems or questions, you can go directly to the Scout Master or pack leader for assistance. Thanks for your interest in this program, it can be very rewarding for both you and the kids!

    • LDrewitz Post author

      Thank you very much for your praise! I love it when my
      posts and articles strike a cord with readers. If you haven’t already done so, May I suggest reading our digital magazine? Here’s the URL:
      Just scroll down to the banner that reads: Going In-Depth: December 2013 – and click on the magazine picture underneath it. Great reading – great ideas!