“No one in my family is interested in our genealogy.”
“I don’t know what will happen to all of my research after I die… no one else cares about it.”
These types of statements break my heart! Over the years I have had my own doubts about anyone else in my family sharing my same love for our ancestors. But, I have come to a conclusion: I am convinced that nearly every person, young and old, with very few exceptions, is actually interested in where they come from, but to differing degrees and in differing ways. Some folks enjoy seeing photos of ancestors. Others feel connected through short stories. Still others like learning about an ancestor involved in a particular historic event. Many are captivated by short video clips from old home movies. A few really do thrive on knowing names, dates and places.
As hard-core genealogists, the keepers and finders of our family lines, I think we have an obligation to keep sharing small bites of genealogy with our family members. We may never find another family member with our same level of passion for preserving the family legacy. But, over time, as we share, we will help many in our families to feel connected in their own way, timing and degree. And I think that is important, even vital. Every person needs a connection to their roots.
Just as a baby must start with small bites of soft food, so must our family members who profess “no interest” in genealogy be given small doses of “soft” information. When they say they have “no interest”, they usually mean “please don’t come at me with a deluge of data, pedigree charts, and heavy tomes.” Instead, we need to break our vast family history stores into manageable bites, so our extended family members can sample small bits and find out what they do like and connect with from their genealogy.
How to Share Small Bites:
- Share photos with a few sentences about that person, place or event from your family history on Instagram or Facebook.
- Upload an old family movie clip to YouTube and share that link with family members.
- Write up a short story about an aspect of an ancestor’s life and share it on a blog, a family Facebook group, etc.
- Use ancestor’s life stories as bedtime stories for your children and grandchildren.
- Create a short book for a branch of your genealogy, including plenty of photos and stories. Give the book to your family members for Christmas.
- Celebrate ancestor’s anniversaries and birthdays on social media
- Commemorate an ancestor’s involvement in an event on the anniversary of that event.
In these and many other ways, we can keep offering these small bites to our extended family members, and I think it will be surprising how many of those family members will be touched by this effort over time. They will feel a connection to their roots and they will feel thankful for that connection.