Have you ever been told you are obsessed with dead people? I have — multiple times!
I have found almost since I started doing my genealogy research two decades ago, that many friends and family see my enthusiasm for this research as some sort of “obsessive” behavior that just isn’t “normal”. They may be right about the not normal part of it, but I think that “obsession” would be the wrong word to describe it. I much prefer to call it a passion, and actually, if you understand my education, it really would be a rather normal passion.
I suppose explaining that I majored in Political Science and minored in history in college would help people begin to understand a little bit. I have a natural predilection to historical research. If you look at my bookshelves at home, the vast majority of what I have on the shelves are either political, current events, or historical books. From as early as I can remember, history has been an absolute fascination for me.
When I was introduced to the idea of genealogical research twenty years ago, it was a natural fit with what I was studying in college at the time, and the idea of studying my family history just added to the fire. I realized that I had the opportunity to see how my family fit into the bigger picture of history. I didn’t have any grandiose ideas that I would find that I was related to some major historical figure (though I have since discovered a distant connection to a U.S. President and a rumor of connections to royalty), but I wanted to see how an average family fit into the grander picture.
I can’t say that I have maintained my passion consistently for the past twenty years. I put aside my research for probably close to a decade. I had very young children, had moved to a new area, started my own business and was trying to juggle all of that. Needless to say, my hobbies and passions were laid aside in favor of the more mundane tasks of life. In the past couple of years, I have rekindled that passion. At first it was to finish one of my original goals — membership in the Sons of the American Revolution — and then the passion for genealogy in general took over again. I enjoy the learning process, the frustration of the hunt, the thrill of the find, and even the tedium of the documentation. Most of all, I truly enjoy and have a passion for finding out where my family came from and how we fit into the grand picture of world history.
Am I obsessed with dead people? Well, I prefer to think of it as being passionate about my family, but I suppose that if I look at it from the perspective of the casual observer, yeah, I am obsessed with dead people.
My question is, why isn’t everyone??