Why is Genealogy Such a Popular Hobby?

31 May 2019

It’s the second most popular hobby in the US, and the second most visited website category according to ABC news. From researching your family tree to casually visiting cemeteries, where did the fascination and love come from for genealogy? 

family history photographs displayed in an album

What goes around comes around

Isn’t it amazing how quickly trends can arise? And we’re sure you’ll agree how scary it is, how fast they can go! They seem to appear from absolutely nowhere at times. From one-minute wonders to timeless classics, trends are the annoying, expensive things that constantly keep us on our toes. Whether it’s sooner or later, the majority of us end up partaking – if you can’t beat them, join them! However, let’s not forget, we have those trends that have been and gone, only to swing back around again and hit you in the face. Mobile phones went from big, to small, to big again. Remember that awful brassy hairstyle (it didn’t look so awful back then) that you used to sport 30 years ago, or that garish pattern that was plastered all over the walls clashing with every piece of furniture in the room? (How could you forget that?!)

genealogy documents

Like the stopping and starting of trends, genealogy fits well in that box.

But, why and since WHEN has genealogy become such a hot topic?

"Genealogy is detective work.  It's exciting and very rewarding when the effort reveals a new piece for the jigsaw puzzle..." [Source]

old photograph of a woman in a hat with her dog

The ever-growing interest in family history 

Genealogy has become so popular,  the number of people who want to see the places where their ancestors lived, walked, worked, and loved for themselves is at an all-time high. Television programmes about genealogy such as Who Do You Think You Are?, featuring celebrities researching their own family roots, and others such as Long Lost Family, reuniting biological parents with their adult children, have helped to spark interest too. In turn, this has led to a wealth of specialist magazines, giving tips and advice to those with a newfound interest in family history. Today, we have increasing online access to easily read transcripts, high-speed indexes and digitised images, so one can do a lot of research from the comfort of one’s own home!

So the internet, television and magazines all have their part to play in the growing interest in family history research and the popularity of genealogy in general.

But is there more to it than that?

family photographs

According to Peter Clifford from Forefathers, many of us now live in life in different cities, maybe even in different countries or on different continents, from where our parents or grandparents lived, let alone our ancestors from centuries past.

"We routinely travel around the world, whether on business or for pleasure, visiting places our forebears had probably never heard of, and would only be likely to see if they went there to fight a war." [Source]

"Remember and honour family who have come and gone before you, because they had a hand in shaping who you are" - Quote

There’s also the thrill of the chase! Once us family history enthusiasts have drained ourselves researching our own ancestry, having caught the ‘genebug’, we take up (plenty of) our time researching others family history!

Sometimes one uncovers the most fascinating people…

It may take months, but it won’t stop us from digging up a grave!

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