Two years ago, my 13 year-old nephew asked me if I was going to do his dad’s genealogy like I did his mom’s – my sister. I said sure, but he could do it. Little did I know that I created a monster, because Daniel loved the thrill of the hunt as well as the record analysis. While I was hoping to impress upon him the importance of citations and correlation of evidence, just having someone else in my family interested in genealogy was wonderful.
I started him off with paper and pencil, so his first question – so appropriate for his generation – was, “Can’t this be done on the computer?” Why yes, yes it can, but sometimes it’s good to do both. His Christmas present that year was RootsMagic 7 software. However, with computer crashes, it’s been a little slow going for him, so I told him about Drop Box. Now we share information and I can help from three hours away.
When I told others about his interest, they were jealous. How do we get the younger generation involved? Well, I wasn’t hooked until age 55, and wish I would have started sooner. Everywhere, genealogists ask the same question, so I decided to go right to the “original source” and ask the 15-year old about his genealogy experiences. Below is the interview:
Pam: What got you interested in genealogy – besides me?
Daniel: The fact that this history of our family is so unknown and you always have a little drive to find out the secrets of your family’s past.
Pam: Has anyone else in your family done research on your dad’s Italian side?
Daniel: No one has done much research into my family’s history. My grandmother did some, but she isn’t alive anymore.
Pam: What is the most frustrating part? How do you deal with it?
Daniel: Losing all your data – computer malfunctions! And thinking you have a lead and it turns out there’s no way it could be possible. You just keep pushing and don’t let it hinder your motive.
Pam: What is the best part? What do you think would attract younger people to genealogy?
Daniel: When you finally put a piece in the puzzle and it makes you satisfied to know that you’ve gone one step closer into your family’s history. You have to be a creative hands-on learner who always wants to do more.
Pam: Do you have any friends who “get” genealogy? Should family history be taught in school?
Daniel: It’s not a highly talked about subject. If it was taught in school, it would have to be an optional class – it’s not for everyone. It would teach people what to look for when looking through documents to find what was a match. History and genealogy could be tied together. Doing projects in history to find people in the past is like finding your own family.
Pam: How do you keep track of your genealogy family?
Daniel: I use diagrams and charts the most, on a computer program, because they show up in a “pretty diagram.” [Air quotes]
Pam: Where are you now in your research?
Daniel: When my grandmother died, my family asked me who each family member was and how they were related. I’m working on being our family history expert.
Pam: Any final thoughts that you’d like to share?
Daniel: Binders are useful. Organization is the key. You can’t trust electronics – don’t rely on computers for everything.
As you can see from our short chat, our two generations are closer than we think!