Friday, August 21, 2015

Getting in the Game

It's back-to-school time for many of us, so let's start off with an easy multiple-choice question, just for fun: 

* Which of the following is a common reason (or excuse) for why people don't get involved in family history?

a) "It's too hard."
b) "I don't have enough time."
c) "I wouldn't know where to start."
d) "It's all been done in my family."

If you answered "all of these" - give yourself an A. These reason-excuses have been around for ages, and they have prevented a lot of people from experiencing the joys of family history - from "getting in the game." The irony is that there is a shred of truth in each of those reasons, but it's more fiction than fact. Let's take a closer look at them ...

It's Too Hard

Maybe climbing a mountain comes to mind for the would-be family history beginner - and it all looks pretty much like a vertical ascent. Two things would help here: providing a gentler slope, and taking the journey a step at a time - not all at once.

The Family History Guide offers a gentle slope with plenty of basic tasks to start with. Its step-by-step approach - Projects, Goals, Choices, and Resources - helps the hesitant learner gain confidence and make meaningful progress.

I Don't Have Enough Time

I've heard quite a few people say, "I'll get around to family history when I'm older - I'm just too busy now" - and the joys of family history are postponed, or even lost in many cases. Learning to enjoy family history in small pieces is one of the keys here. Just 30 minutes a week can be a good start for anyone with a busy schedule. 

Small tasks in the Family History Guide are great for week-by-week engagement in family history, helping build stronger connections between the living and their ancestors.

Where to Start ... 

One of the problems with learning family history is that it can seem overwhelmingly large - it can be like trying to swim the Pacific. One advantage of The Family History Guide is that it provides a smaller pool to take the first dip - each Choice has a few steps, connected to articles and videos that help ease the learning process. 

It's All Been Done!

That's a common myth among families with long-time, active genealogists. But if you go back a ways, there will inevitably be missing branches or twigs in your tree - places to start doing research. Even before that, there are likely hundreds of ancestors who need sources and records attached, or who have mistakes or other issues that need correction. And then there's the whole world of photos, documents, and stories ... The point is, there's enough work to do for each person to have his or her own personal connection to family history - without leaving it all to Aunt Gladys or Grandpa Leroy.

Staying in the Game

It's one thing to get more people "in the game" of family history, but it's another thing to keep them in. Many beginners enjoy a few hours, days, or even weeks of success - and then they run out of steam. The Family History Guide aims not only to reach the roughly 90% who are not involved in family history yet but also to help people get farther in their journey - and enjoy it more.

Thanks for listening! The proof, of course, is in the experience - and more people are experiencing family history through The Family History Guide each week. Our challenge is to keep it on the leading edge - growing and improving to meet the needs of family history enthusiasts everywhere. Visit us at and let us know what you think!