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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Favorite Blog Post - Age Divide in Genealogy?

My how the week goes by, and here is my first blog post in more than a week! Life's a ride....

My favorite blog post this week was James Tanner's, "The Genealogy Age Gap - How do we expand to include the youth?"

This was an interesting topic, which I would also like to comment on. I feel personally vested in this topic due to the fact that I started genealogy when I was 16. When I went to a historical society or some type of library, I was a bit out of place, among the older people. And on occasion, I felt a bit...well, watched and/or patronized, when I was younger. Not only are the older generations (this is a relative term, here, which probably includes me now), somewhat skeptical of the intentions of younger people, they also can feel that those younger "kids" don't really know what they are doing.

The fact that younger people might not know what they are doing in genealogy is not bad. Everybody who starts in a hobby such as genealogy starts at the bottom. No matter the age. What I think the younger generations can bring to genealogy is their love and knowledge of technology, which is radically changing how genealogy works.

There are a couple of points I don't agree with Mr. Tanner, however. I think it has always fallen to the older people in society to bemoan the state of the younger generations. It has probably been going on for hundreds or thousand of years. While I am a pessimistic person by trade, I believe that the younger generations always work out their kinks and get with the program.  Things have worked out so far.

Okay, next point I want to take up is Mr. Tanner's attempt to provide genealogy with a solution to getting younger people involved in genealogy. I don't really think this is a problem. While his assertion is that they have no desire to learn about their family, no knowledge of how to do this, or time, may be spot on, I don't think that is anything new.

While my experience is somewhat unusual in genealogy, starting so young, the genealogy bug does catch numerous younger people. However, I think Mr. Tanner is missing the point. Genealogy has historically been something taken up by someone who has the time or resources to do it. That group includes wealthy individuals who can either pay someone to do it for them, or not have to work, and do it themselves, and the older, or retired generations. It is a time consuming hobby which also focuses the individual on their own mortality. Naturally as we get closer to our own mortality, we start to look backward at no only our own life, but also to our family history. I'm not trying to sound age biased here,but it is just something that I have seen in many older individuals in my family.

As a younger person who is passionate about genealogy, I don't need convincing that my family history is important. It is a struggle to find the time and money to do the necessary research, analyzing of the material and writing up of the genealogy. I'm just not sure anyone can convince younger people who are so busy and caught up with the day to day life that they need to pursue this hobby. Maybe we can change this outlook, but I'm not too hopeful. How about we start with proposing a 30 hour work week as a "full time" job?  That might be a start. 

Copyright © 2013 Matt Mapes

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