Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting Younger People Involved with Genealogy

And when I say "younger" I'm talking about anyone under 40!  I had an interesting encounter on the phone today which made me pause and think about this topic:
I recently signed up for a free trial of a product and since this is how some companies handle their marketing and customer service, I received a phone call from the company.  They wanted to make sure I fully understood how to use the product, if I had any questions, etc.  Without revealing the product, you can probably guess if I tell you it has to do with webinars.
So, Mr. Genealogy Webinar here explained that he had no issues with the product.  Then, I took the chance to do some proselytizing about genealogy (as in, "Hello.  Have you heard the good word about Genealogy today.") by stating that the product was very popular in the genealogy community, etc.  I pulled out all the stops and discussed the various webinars, the Geneawebinars website etc.  
The woman then asked if genealogy was related to family history. I explained a bit more and I also said that webinars help beginners better understand how to research, what tools to use etc.
Finally, I heard her make this statement (paraphrasing): "Oh that's neat.  I'll have to tell my folks since they're getting ready to retire and they need something to do."
I guess I get frustrated when someone under 40 doesn't take an interest in genealogy or thinks it is something for us old folk.  Well, to that end, I've started to produce a future episode of GeneaBloggers Radio entitled "Getting Youth Involved In Genealogy" which was suggested by Drusilla Pair of Find Your Folks.  Stay tuned for the July 15th episode which will be hosted by DearMYRTLE and will have Professor Dru and others as guests.

Hopefully we can get kids fired up about family history.  Or maybe we just need something like School House Rock just for genealogy . . .

© 2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Leaves of Heritage Genealogy said...

This is why I volunteered to help next year with the Kids History Camp for SCGS Jamobroee, and why I emailed the gal at Family History Expos (though I haven't hear back yet) to do the same there at the San Mateo Expo. We need to make it more interactive for the kids. Let me know if you want to collaborate on something. I've been a Girl Scout leader for 10 years, I led camp for 200+ members, I've run 4H, coached soccer, and a whole myriad of other types of things, including homeschooling. I would LOVE to get something going, but need someone to give me the outlet to do it.

BTW, I am 36 and been doing genealogy, in depth, for 12 years now =0)

taneya said...

Oh, this will be great! I am going to email you with an idea to see if it will be of help.

Monica P said...

I'm 33 and have been doing genealogy extensively for about 4 years. I would love to find ways to make it more interesting for my 9 year old son who occasionally asks to "do genealogy" with me. Unfortunately, as soon as I start talking about records, etc. he starts to glaze over. I wish there were activities other than just filling out a pedigree chart (which he has no interest in) that I could have on hand for when he does approach me. I look forward to more posts about this!

Claudia's Genealogy Blog said...

My daughter is somewhat interested. When I told her I found the names of her 3xgrandparents and their wedding date I told her if it was not for them you would not exist.

I think that struck a cord with her when she said "You're right!!!"

Bill said...

That would be a great topic!

Although I think it's important to encourage kids (i.e., those under the age of 18) to get involved with genealogy, I would love to have a show or discussion specifically focusing on getting younger adults involved.

I'm 36 and started doing genealogy last year. From personal experience, it can be very off-putting to go to a society meeting or a conference and see so few people in my age range (and when I hear about the difficulties faced by societies, I wonder if that is part of the reason). I've had friends actively discourage me from pursuing a genealogy hobby, and even had the same from one older person (my mother's friend)! On the other hand, when I've sat friends down and done some searches for their families on, or convinced co-workers to try 23andMe, they all seem to find family history research much more appealing than they expected it to be.

So I'd be especially interested in the ways the genealogy community can reach out to younger folks, whether it be via 50 Cent's MTV genealogy show, highlighting the geeky and technological aspects via RootsTech, or other means.

MNFamilyHistorian said...

Some people are naturally predisposed to pursuits like genealogy–I know I am. I've been seriously working on my family tree since I was about 20 years old. If it wasn't my family history, I'd still be researching something. I think it's a matter of personality type.

Others can become interested by other aspects. Lisa Louise Cooke has some great ideas for using Google Earth to make interactive tours. Lots of young people create videos every day. Suggest they make one about their family history–it might be the spark that gets them interested.

Gini said...

This is excellent and I know my granddaughter, Emma, will be very interested and sitting next to me during this broadcast . . . great idea, Thomas, thank you!

Kerry Scott said...

I am under 40 for a few more days...but I started when I was 21. I think more "young" people are doing this than people think. They just aren't the ones you see at conferences and stuff, because conferences are for people who have money and time off from work (which nobody does in their 20s) and also don't have little kids who are hard to travel away from (which includes lots of us in our 30s).