People Who Are Not Interested in Genealogy

Robert W. Gregg
Robert W. Gregg

You know the peo­ple I’m talk­ing about.

You meet them all the time.

They say, “Oh, I’m not inter­ested in geneal­ogy. What could you POSSIBLY find inter­est­ing in that?”

In my expe­ri­ence, most of these folks begin within 15 min­utes to tell you that their father’s emi­grated to the United States from Italy, via Puerto Rico, and that their father was always ashamed by being from Puerto Rico.… And that they wish they knew more about their Ital­ian fam­ily, and wished their grand­mother and father were will­ing to talk about where the fam­ily came from in Italy. It turns out that their high-school sweet­heart went to Italy and returned with pages from a local phone book show­ing all the peo­ple with their sur­name, con­sid­ered rare in the US, but not in Italy.

Admit­tedly, this is only my expe­ri­ence, but the peo­ple who are not inter­ested in geneal­ogy seem to be the most inter­ested once they real­ize that it’s not about doc­u­ments, not about pro­vid­ing proper sourc­ing. It’s about his­tory, it’s about the lives of the peo­ple who came before. Doc­u­ments, sources, research meth­ods are all in sup­port of the goal, which is under­stand­ing his­tory at ground level. While the research itself may not be of inter­est to every­one, great sto­ries of fame and ignominy will never lose their appeal.

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