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Dear family historian…

Here’s the truth about the passion you’re nurturing.

Dear family historian,

Welcome to the fold. Whether you’re just starting, or you’ve been at this family history thing for a while, you’re part of a unique, extraordinary, and exceptional group of people. We all, regardless of our areas of focus, have so much in common.

“Woot! That new Social Security Application Index is GOLD!”

“Did you see that blog post?!? Spot on!”

“Here’s something I found that would be of interest to someone, somewhere.”

“Score! That brick wall just came tumbling down!”

“DNA is driving me batty, but making me oh so happy.”

We’ve got so many positives to celebrate, but there are also some truths about this life we live that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them. Some cold, hard truths.

This journey will be the most exhilarating, frustrating, rewarding, and disappointing thing you’ve ever done. It’s a road paved with yin and yang, good and bad, yes and no…

You’re going to find the world.

You’re going to find nothing.

One line you’ll be able to trace back to the creation of the earth, with sources, family members who’ve done the DNA test, and 1,000 volumes of family books already published.

Another line you’ll have nothing but names, no dates, no locations, not a darn thing. For. Years. And years. And years. And years.

Your own family won’t support you.

Your own family will support you.

They’ll be the first to point out an error before they recognize the amount of time, talent, and resources it takes to create and maintain your project. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve asked them to help you by providing information.

They’ll also be the first to brag about all you’ve done to the people they know. They’ll show your book, your website, your blog, etc. to so many people with a sense of pride.

You’re going to make someone mad.

You’re going to make someone happy.

It’s not going to matter that all you wrote about or captured came from public records or oral history. They’ll want it to be what they want remembered.

They’ll also discover what you’ve done and tell you how thankful they are. They’ll be thankful for a knowledge of themselves that they never had in a world that said they didn’t have a history, especially one birthed from the family they come from.

Other researchers won’t see a need for what you’re doing.

Other researchers will plead for others to see the value in what you’re doing.

They’ll claim that your line of research is divisive and that there frankly is no need for it. They’ll also become self proclaimed experts in the very subject area that they claim there is no need for.

They’ll also drum up the troops, get you in the right spaces and places, and make sure that your voice is heard, come hell or high water.

They’ll say you aren’t related because you’re (fill in the blank).

They’ll eagerly welcome you because they know DNA doesn’t lie.

It won’t matter that your genomes were run through a computer with proprietary algorithms or that you have DNA and a paper trail going back to a man or woman who bedded someone who was on the fringes of society. You’re still (fill in the blank) and they don’t want any association with someone who is (fill in the blank).

The shock won’t matter. The questions won’t matter. Family is family and they’ll love you just the same as someone they’ve known they were related to their entire lives. They’ll fly across the world to meet you. They’ll include you in their life and more…because you’re family.

In the end, none of what they’ll say matters.

All of the reams of paper printed, files saved on hard drives, research trips taken, pencils used, books bought, and subscriptions paid for aren’t for them or us. It’s for the people who aren’t even thought of yet.

Signed,

One of you.

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3 thoughts on “Dear family historian…”

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