Over at Mnemosyne’s Magic Mirror, Mel has been posting some very thought-provoking articles on genealogy conferences. His latest article compares genealogy conferences with other popular hobbies and finds ours comes up lacking in attendance. His comparison to quilting shows got me thinking about the product of our labors. What tangible thing do you have to show for your research efforts?
I’ve often felt a bit guilty that I wasn’t as focused on the research effort as most of my genealogy friends. Yes, I do love the hunt for clues and the joy of solving a part of the puzzle, but I must admit that I would much rather create a regatta video, a photo documentary or a family cookbook. And, these products generate a lot more interest from family members than the few academic family histories written about our clan.
Quilting groups, art associations and other hobbyists spend time and money to learn techniques but all have the goal of displaying and even selling a completed project. The artists in my family travel to workshops and seminars to learn from experts. Some are large affairs in distant locations, but just as often they are small classes closer to home. All are much more relaxed than any conference with plenty of time to enjoy the location and company. Perhaps there are some lessons to be learned here.
The genealogy community focuses on the research effort – as it should – but seldom discusses the finished product. Yes, until recently, the finished product was a very time-consuming and expensive project. Today’s technology is changing all of that and it is time we spend a bit more time learning about the things we can create and how to do it. Digitizing photos and documents to safeguard those precious treasures is one thing, but using those images to build a photo documentary or family storybook may well capture the interest of even the most unreachable family member.
It’s time to consider creating some genealogy you can touch.