There are times when genealogy research can be a very lonely hobby. You spend more times alone on your computer or in a historical society leafing through dusty records looking for those elusive pieces of information than having fun. How can you have fun with genealogy research? As a genealogist for over 30 years, I can tell you that one of the best ways to have fun with genealogy research is to have a research buddy.
If you are lucky enough to have a spouse or a sibling who shares your obsession, you will have a built in research buddy. If you need to take a road trip to go to an archive or a cemetery, you can make a day of it with your research buddy. Two sets of eyes are always better than one and by adding a lunch, dinner or tea time to your work day you are adding a lot of fun to the whole process. Sometimes we just don’t have a family member who shares our passion, then what?
A friend who is working on their genealogy can also become an accomplice. It is a little different when you are researching two different families. You will need to come up with places to research where both of you can find information. Another way to have fun with your genealogy research is to trade brick walls with a friend. You research theirs and they research yours. Sometimes another set of eyes is all you need to break down the wall.
Go to a genealogy conference. This is a great way to not only have fun but to learn some new strategies. You will have the opportunity to hear some great speakers, to place your missing ancestors on the Queries Board and mix with the other genealogists. In New England, we have our conference every two years and the location changes states every time. The next conference will be held in Providence, Rhode Island in April 2015.
Travel to a location where you have roots. You can do this alone or with someone else. Walk in the footsteps of your ancestors. Visit the places that were important in their lives. Go to the local library and see if they have a genealogy room or local history room. You may be able to find out some little known information about your ancestors. You need to look beyond the obvious sources.
Towns have lots of records, town meetings, land records, tax rolls and school records. You can make this a fun day, weekend or even an entire vacation if you ancestors happen to have come from a faraway location.
A genealogy shared is a genealogy that is fun. You may find your buddy in the most expected places; it may even be a relative you find on the Internet through a genealogy forum or on Ancestry.com. There is no doubt that you will spend a lot of your genealogy research time alone grinding away. For a dedicated genealogist this is fun as well but not as much fun as sharing the frustrations, the rewards and the fascinating little bits that you will find in your quest.
I met my third cousin Barbara on a genealogy forum about 15 years ago and we have become great friends and supporters and met in England. I met another 3rd cousin Chris on a forum and have visited with him in Victoria BC and two other 3rd cousins Roland and Sue met with us in Michigan where they both live, I introduced them to each other. Another 2nd cousin Marc met we me in Quebec City so as you see, your family may grow by leaps and bounds. I have met lots of other cousins too and even hosted a family reunion.
So while genealogy may be a solitary hobby, there are many ways to have fun while doing it.