Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Isn't genealogy supposed to be fun?

Fun is a serious topic. I would hesitate to even do a Google search on fun with anything else, there would be so many responses. If our society was judged by our advertisements, fun would be judged to be one of our most sought after goals. Here are some of the titles of the hits found by a search on "fun genealogy." (6,470,000 results)

A just for fun genealogy quiz
Fun stuff for genealogists
Genealogy fun time
Genealogy fun
Some favorite fun genealogy products
How to make genealogy fun for the entire family
Fun with genealogy
Genealogy simple and fun

So, am I missing something? I guess I am not into the fun of genealogy. I generally look on genealogy as hard work. Not that work cannot be fun, but that is not the reason or the main attraction for my involvement in genealogy. I really take exception with the last item on the list above, genealogy is neither simple nor fun in the advertising sense.

If you would rather sit in a library than go to a movie or a sports event, then maybe you consider genealogy to be fun. By the way, if given the choice, I would much rather sit in a library and to research that do almost anything else, given the chance. Most of us who have been involved in genealogy for a long time have probably attended many, many classes and seminars on genealogy. Do you think going to school is fun? Most students look forward to vacation time so they can get away from school. I looked forward to vacation time because then I had the library virtually to myself. I used to think, and still do, if they are interested in learning, why do all the students run away from school so fast?

Looking for the fun in world is a hollow and shallow pursuit. If we judge the worth of our activities by how much fun we have or had, then we will seldom do anything that will have lasting value. Do not misunderstand, there is a big difference between taking a break or a vacation and pursuing fun. My recent trip to northern Arizona is an example, I went to see some things I had wanted to see for years and we had a really good time, but at the same time, I stopped to take pictures of a historical spot in my family's history, Lee's Ferry.

Are there fun things about genealogy? Of course. I had a lot of fun at my three family reunions this summer. That did not stop us from putting up a computer so that we could update all of our family's events. In our "me" oriented society, we may lose track of the real and lasting fun and pleasure of learning about our families. As for me, it is easy to give up ATVs, sports events, monster truck rallies, motocross, wake board riding and other activities to be involved in genealogy. Not that those things are not fun, but to me, they lack any meaning. Genealogy is absorbing, interesting, challenging, mind expanding, difficult, and rewarding. But, it is not all fun and the "fun" component is not the reason I do genealogy.


  1. Yep, genealogy is supposed to be fun. The part that's fun, however, is not the library research or the hours over the microfilm reader, or searching sources online. It's the part with people. It's sharing with others the results of our research and theirs (if they are into this also), it's the social interactions in face to face and, yes, even online meetings (although it's different and bit harder there, and it's in helping others and getting their help. I find other genealogists get excited by some of the same things I do. It's the networking and people element that brings the fun.

  2. I think genealogy is fun, and I think all of it is fun. I enjoy the research time, sharing it with family, entering information, even all the picky little stuff. It works for me in a lot of areas: love of mysteries/good stories and puzzles, creative outlet, love of socializing, curiosity, philosophical bent, even a bit of OCD with regard to entering information in all those blank boxes. To me, "absorbing, interesting, challenging, mind expanding, difficult, and rewarding" = fun. I never heard that fun had to be simple-minded.

  3. As Deason and Greta both indicate, either directly or indirectly, it depends on one's definition of "fun." I think learning is fun; here in my 60s, I am back in college, pursuing yet another degree (this will be my fourth, to add to my first bachelor's degree, my associate's degree, and my master's degree).

    I also think that sitting in a library or archive pursuing the fugitive fact is big fun. Seeing relationships, having that "Aha!" moment, constructing conclusions -- all of that is fun to me. Essentially a loner, though with some gregariousness, I prefer library research to family reunions (where sometimes you have to put up with unpleasant contention). Books, documents, maps are not contentious in the way people can be.

    But I also enjoy finding new cousins, sharing that wonderful fact with family members, enjoying with them the story of our family.

    And, except for attending sports events, which I do enjoy, I agree with your list of the things genealogy is more fun than!