by Joan Sowards
I admit it. I am totally addicted to family history research and I enjoy it as much as writing.
I actually attribute my love for writing to family history. Years ago, I found a name of a woman that possibly could be my ancestor’s mother. The impression repeatedly came to sit down at the computer and write how an interview with her would go. I did and it turned into a short story. Then it grew into a novel—my first novel (unpublished)—Bridges of the Heart. Through that experience, I discovered I love writing and crafting a story as much as I love doing family history research.
As everyone else, I had planned to start genealogy in my retirement years, but about twenty years ago a friend insisted I find a babysitter and go with her for an hour to the family history center. After that I was hooked.
I used to be like the girl I met one evening sitting in the back of the family history center as the other Young Women in her class attentively listened to the missionary sister giving a tour. I asked the girl why she didn’t join her friends. “My family has been in the church for generations and our genealogy is all done,” she said, leaning back in her chair with an air of smugness.
I had to hide a smirk. “I used to think that way too,” I told her. “But as I got into researching, I found that each of my ancestors had siblings, spouses, and in-laws that still needed finding. Outside of my direct line, very few had their temple work done.”
She shrugged and I knew that was my cue to leave her alone to bask in her all-is-well-in-Zion attitude, though I knew the joy she'd miss.
Sometimes I feel guilty spending time doing family history, but in the long run, I know it is not time wasted. Every name found goes on familysearch.com. I feel warm all over finding a name that isn’t already recorded there. Making records public takes lost individuals out ofobscurity who may otherwise never be remembered.
Another good thing about researching, is that I can do it at home in my spare time, between loads of laundry and grandchildren visits. I can do it when I’m burned out from writing on my novel. I can write my novel when I’m burned out doing family history research.
The bottom line—doing family history work brings happiness. :-)