My husband and I are very different genealogists. I love research. I love the challenge of the hunt, the mystery waiting to be solved. I'll research anyone's ancestry just to have the thrill of following the clues. I just love solving the puzzle. Of course I also love finding my own ancestors!
My husband however dislikes research. He finds it tedious and a lot of work. He loves finding an ancestor, or better yet, having someone else find that ancestor for him. He's passionate about his ancestry, but avoids the actual research whenever possible. Family lore is enough for him and he feels no need to find sources to verify that lore. If it's important enough to him, he'll force himself to push through the research but he'd rather I did it for him. He always says that if he were rich, he'd hire someone to do all the research for him.
I'd hate that, and in fact I often feel bad that I'm doing so much that I'm not leaving my grandchildren the fun of the hunt!
It seems to me that there are several types of genealogists -
The Hunter or Detective: This genealogist loves the research. While they want to find their own ancestors, they'll research anyone's ancestry just for the thrill of the hunt. They are easily sidetracked from their own ancestral research by the challenge of solving a stranger's brick wall.
The Gatherer or Ancestor Collector: This genealogist loves to know about their ancestors but doesn't really enjoy the hunt. He/she is happy to have others share what they have found.
The Ancestor Finder: This genealogist loves it all - doing the actual research and finding that elusive ancestor but they only enjoy researching their own family tree, not the ancestry of strangers.
The Hoarder: This genealogist does lots of research, finds new things about their ancestors but refuses to share any of the information.
The Junkyard Collector: This genealogist gets excited over online Family Trees and merges them with his/her own. He/she never verifies anything or checks their facts. Before long they have a mess of unsourced information, conflicting data and facts that don't make sense. They'll have female ancestors having children at the age of 100, or men born 50 years after their spouse or children born before their parents.
The Scholar: This genealogist lives and breathes source citations. Accuracy is everything to this research. You'll often find this person submitting articles to scholarly journals as the New York Genealogial and Biographical Record. Page after page of red edit marks from the editors don't intimidate them. They'll plow through their article drafts, refining and revising and making each more accurate than the last.
The Analyzer: This genealogist finds a new fact, then studies it and analyzes it carefully before moving on to the next bit of research. They use each fact as a stepping stone to more research. They verify every piece of information they find and they view it critically, thinking about what it actually means and what other clues might be gleaned from it.
The Planner: This genealogist is a faithful keeper of research logs. He/she creates research plans and follows them. They are extremely organized in their research and meticulous about planning before they go on a research trip
The Writer: This is the genealogist who is driven to write the stories of the ancestors. Some publish the books they write and offer them for sale, others write only for their family.
I'm not judging any specific type as the best or the worst except the junkyard collectors who make me shudder and shake my head in bewilderment.
Some of us may fit more than one category. I am definitely a Hunter-Detective and a Writer but I'm also a little bit of a Scholar. I don't live and breathe source citations but I have submitted articles to scholarly journals and I've faced the red editing pen with determination. I'm also an Analyzer. My husband on the other hand is a Gatherer. He doesn't seem to fit any other categories.
Where do you fit in?
Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.
Credit: Images are from Pixabay with License: CC0 Public Domain