I’ve recently discovered genealogy by way of stumbling upon this simple online tool for modeling family trees. It’s really easy to get started and it’s quite captivating and lots of fun trying to remember everybody in the family. As it turns out, when I include the kids of my uncles and aunts, my tiny family is fairly big after all – I’ve added 67 people so far!
Not all of those 67 people are still living, but it was still on eye-opener to me. My brother received some help from a friend with digging through old records (Danish church books from several hundred years ago have been digitized and are searchable online; how awesome is that?!) and we traced our family back to around 1830 or so. Together, we are adding more details like birth dates and life events, and there are plenty of names we can still add. My parents and their siblings know a lot of anecdotes and details, and they are contributing with enthusiasm.
There seem to be a handful of legendary secrets hidden among those stories, making this even more exciting. My grandparents could have provided significant depth and details – but alas, we have lost them to the cold grip of death. How precious it would be to write down those stories instead! Better late than never; I want to capture as much as we still can.
As with any topic, genealogy is a very serious hobby for a lot of people. I don’t expect to become that heavily involved but I am starting to see why people find this so interesting. A modern version of fireplace stories, now revolving around a digital structure that everybody can contribute to.
If the site I mentioned above isn’t your cup of tea, there are lots of other online tools as well great Q&A resources, and if you prefer locally-installed software then Gramps is the de-facto standard and is even free.
But at least in my case, this is a collaborative effort so it’s important that everybody can access the tree and work on it. If you know of a better tool for collaborating on a family tree, please comment!