05 November


10 Reasons to Love Genealogy

By Stephanie Pitcher Fishman diary, education, Homeschooling, humor, teens, writing 11 Comments

Done. Thank you! fhp_vf_bollinger_0014

Do you love genealogy? Have you been bitten by the bug? Here are 10 of my favorite reasons why I love genealogy.

Or, the subtitle, “Why I Like Chasing Dead People.”


1. It feeds my need to learn.

I have found it virtually impossible to make it through a research project without learning something along the way. I’ve discovered Quaker history, how migration patterns developed the nation, that women took it to the streets in their campaign in support of the Temperance Movement – and this is all in my own family. I won’t even get started on the interesting historical tidbits and connections I’ve learned while working on client projects. I think those excite me nearly as much or more as my own because I have the ability to learn and experience life outside of my specific region. I love it. It’s like a vacation for my brain. :)


A note to my homeschool friends:

This is what I love to call “stealth learning.” Hook them with the story and feed their little brains while they aren’t looking!


2. I can be as obsessed with organization as I want to, and it’s ok.

Timelines, spreadsheets, and charts only help with data analysis. I love it! I can’t begin to explain the feeling of knowing that I can arrange, highlight, bold, italicize, and ALL CAP my little heart out. It’s a sickness, really.


And, who doesn’t like highlighters? (Seriously. Who? They need to try these by Sharpie… They are awesome! )


3. I get to feel like I’m speaking a different language.

Every niche and profession has its own slang and lingo. Genealogy is no different. We talk about things like ahnentafels and soundex numbers. It’s sort of like talking in Klingon only cooler. Maybe.


4. Dead people do not argue with you.

They may be silent at times. They can even play with you or push your buttons. (Ok – so maybe it isn’t intentional, but it sure feels like it sometimes.) One thing they do not do is argue with you. There is solace in knowing that when I’ve had enough of it I can retreat to my research. Online or in a repository, it’s my time to shut out the outside world and focus on something that I love (without backtalk.)


Note to my homeschool friends:

You know what I’m talking about. Admit it.


5. Dead people do not eat your chocolate.

I have a teenager with a sweet tooth. Enough said.


6. It gives me perspective.

I am blessed with a wonderful family, but sometimes when I see that things aren’t always going as I thought they would it actually brings me comfort to see the bigger picture through the filter of my family history. It wasn’t easy for my great-grandmother when her husband had a stroke leaving her with concern for his recovery while balancing a farm and a house-full of children. Yes, times are hard. Yes, we don’t like what’s going on in other areas of the world or sometimes even in our own country. Seeing – no, experiencing – history gives us the perspective to know that we are not unique in our struggles. It gives us comfort that we, too, can survive. We’re lucky that we can be inspired to push on because of the determination we see in the lives of the family who has gone before us.


7. I’m a day-dreamer by nature, and the stories of my ancestors feed the best dreams!

The stories of true lives and accomplishments are amazing! Don’t knock it until you hear about your second-great-grandfather’s regiment in the Civil War, or you discover the journey that your great-grand-uncle took across the sea to reunite with his children after trying to establish a life in a new country.  Hollywood has nothing on the lives of the individuals in your family tree. You don’t have to be descended from someone famous to find stories of adventure, romance, and tragedy.


Note to my homeschool friends:

Do you have a writer in your midst? Family history is a great way to encourage or develop creative writing.


8. I never get bored.

Chocolate, highlighters, stories, research, daydreaming… who can get bored when you are discovering the history tied to your VERY OWN family?


9. I, uh, kinda, sorta, like source citations.

This goes back to #2 (my organizational sickness.) In one tiny, tight package I – or any other researcher – can revisit my original source for the fact referenced. It’s a map of sorts. It leads to the historical treasures that make my the picture of my ancestor’s life. Hansel and Gredle had bread crumbs. Genealogists have source citations.


A note to my homeschool friends:

Source citations are a fabulous thing to teach our children as well! This is a foundational rung in research that they can carry into any college course. Make sure your kids understand the basics even if they are simple in format. Although it is a genealogical text, Evidence is a great resource that is easy to understand and simple to apply to various sources.




10. I want to be remembered, too.

My favorite Russian proverb says, “You live as long as you are remembered.” I use this quote so often, but it sums it up nicely. My ancestors are not forgotten. They are present when we make certain meals at the holidays even if we don’t realize that they were the one that started the tradition. They are present in our family when we worship (or don’t) because they laid the foundation of faith in our family history. They are the reason that we are in this country or that. We remember them because though we didn’t know who they were, they helped make our lives what they are today.

Always remember.


Now go chase some dead people!


Disclaimer: I do use advertising in the form of affiliate links on this blog. If you should choose to click on and purchase from the affiliate link placed above, I will earn a (very) small commission from the specific company involved. Seriously small. Like pennies. But they will be pennies that I appreciate very much!

© 2012, Stephanie Pitcher Fishman. All rights reserved.


  • Jamie {See Jamie blog}

    6 November 2012 Reply

    I love genealogy but I don’t know enough to get past the hurdles I’ve run into and that just gets frustrating! I really need to do more research about HOW to do proper research. One of my biggest challenges is that there is American Indian on both sides, but it’s hard to document and the documents that do exist are so sketchy. {sigh} I’ll figure it out one of these days!
    Jamie {See Jamie blog} recently posted..Top 10 Holiday-Related Things on My MindMy Profile

  • Mariann Regan

    10 November 2012 Reply

    I agree with all your reasons, but some are my favorites. Numbers 6 and 7 are close to my heart. When I learn what my family did to stay alive (never mind prosper) through history, I am comforted to know that my perceptions are correct…life is in face hard and unfair. That makes me feel better, because I know it isn’t my “bad choices” (people find so many ways to blame themselves these days!) that has made the lives of my friends and me so very, very hard at times.

    My other favorite is Number 1. In school I was bored and intimidated by history because I couldn’t find a meaning anywhere in it. Now, in genealogy, there is meaning all over the place, and I seem to automatically remember all the details I pick up from other people’s searches and blogs and tweeted article links. It’s painless and fascinating. New worlds open!

    Thanks for this cheerful and true list!
    Mariann Regan recently posted..And the Walls Come Tumbling DownMy Profile

  • Jim – Hidden Genealogy Nuggets Blog

    11 November 2012 Reply

    I love genealogy and family history because we out made up of our ancestors who came before us through the DNA they passed down to us.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

    • Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

      15 November 2012 Reply

      I agree, Jim! It makes me very sentimental to think that even though I haven’t met some of them, each ancestor affected where and how we live today. I love seeing the thread that travels through each generation. ~ Stephanie

  • Catherine

    16 November 2012 Reply

    Great list! I love doing research and I love learning about my ancestors and about the history surrounding them. I like trying to figure out the “why.” Oh, and I like citations, too. Maybe too much. One of my blog posts has more citations than narrative. I was sorta embarrassed to post it.
    Catherine recently posted..Watching the Sun Go Down at Ocean PondMy Profile

  • Jana Last

    16 November 2012 Reply

    I just wanted to let you know that this post is listed on today’s Fab Finds post at

  • Celia Lewis

    16 November 2012 Reply

    I must have been standing behind the door when they handed out the love of organization and source citations, because those are continual challenges to me!! And as an introvert (who can act quite extroverted with friends/family), I love to hermit away with my records and computer and genealogy books, and dig away, ferreting out what I can. Plus, because my computer desk is in a corner of my front room with windows on either side, I’m always entertained by junkos/chickadees/sparrows, and the huge beautiful trees down the street. A marvellous place to do genealogy. Thank you so much for your amusingly honest post. I got into genealogy to see a bigger picture of what on earth is my family all about and how did they get this way… And I’ve been paid back ten-fold! Cheers.
    Celia Lewis recently posted..CLUES GALORE! Greatgrandmother’s 1858 Birth RecordMy Profile

  • Devon Lee

    20 November 2012 Reply

    I LOVE that point about dead people don’t argue with you. You’re also right in that they can really push my buttons. But I never am bored and it does feed my need to stimulate my mind while I’m homeschooling my kiddos. (BTW… You have a teenager? How is that possible? You seem far to young.)

    • Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

      20 November 2012 Reply

      Exactly! How did I miss that you homeschool? We’ve probably talked about it but I’ve totally blanked. Yes – I have a 15 yo (sorry – 15 and a HALF – very important), but I also have two older girls from my husband’s first marriage who are both out on their own with their own families and children even! There are many days that I do not feel quite as young as my driver’s license tells me I am… :)

  • Sharon

    3 March 2013 Reply

    Those are some great reasons, though there are so many more, like the thrill of seeing your ancestors name on a newly discovered archive or the lust for a photograph of where they were born.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 + = 9

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge