When I tell people that I am a genealogist, I usually get one of two reactions. Some think that is the coolest thing ever, while others can’t seem to understand why I would be interested in other people’s genealogy. I usually ask the doubters if they know where they came from. More often than not, they tell me they have no idea about their ancestors. That’s when my eyes light up and I go into full genealogist mode.
I don’t “sell” the idea of genealogy to the doubters in order to make a dollar. I do it so I can see their idea of family history change when I begin to tell them the stories of their ancestors. I do it so that they can find a little bit of themselves in their 2x Great Grandparents. I do it in order to help them find closure on what was an unbelievable and unconfirmed family story. I could come up with a thousand reasons of why I “do” genealogy and not one of them is more important than the other.
I recently came across an article by a genealogist that criticized the new season of Who Do You Think You Are. They were disappointed that this season is focusing more on the storytelling than the genealogy work. I don’t understand why this is a bad thing. The storytelling is what brought me to genealogy. It wasn’t the countless hours in a library or digging through records in a courthouse. These days, I love spending hours on end doing research, but to a non-genealogist they just want to know the story. I feel like why not use the “new” Who Do You Think You Are to our advantage. When you hear someone talk about the show, let them know that you (or another genealogist) can help them have the same experience. One doesn’t have to know how the cake is baked to know that it’s sweet!