Genealogy is for Generations

Why is a hobby that revolves around dead people so popular?

Genealogy is derived from the Greek word genea, “generation” and “knowledge.” It is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.

Oftentimes, family histories are passed down in the desire to preserve the past for future generations.

Hobbyist genealogists try to understand not just where and when people lived, but also their lifestyles, biographies and motivations. This often requires - or leads to – knowledge of antiquated laws, political boundaries, migration trends and socioeconomic or religious conditions.

Generations come and go. Who will know them? Who will keep track? Oftentimes, the sense of responsibility falls on the “senior generation,” as they hold most of the information, photos and papers. However, regardless of your age or generation, getting involved in your family genealogy and watching your tree grow with new an old faces can take you to unexpected places.

Genealogy - Generations Magazine - June - July 2012Genealogy and You

Who do you think you are? Your lineage? Do you want to know?

Apparently Americans do want to know who they are. Millions tune in each week to watch the T.V shows, Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots. Shows that deal with investigating the genealogy of celebrities.

These shows, each in their own compelling way, take a different celebrity on a journey into his or her family history. Viewers are taken on an emotional, personal and often mysterious quest as these celebrities discover their ancestors - many of whom had to overcome huge obstacles while struggling for freedom and opportunity.

Why is a hobby that revolves around dead people so popular? Genealogy has become the fastest growing hobby in North America. It has even surpassed scrap booking and gardening in popularity. According to Kim Farah, spokesperson for the Family History Library (LDS), it is because genealogy touches on a fundamental need. “It’s universal; it crosses all faiths and cultures. The benefits of knowing our heritage, of the sacrifices others have made for us, give us a sense of responsibility and self-esteem.”

Genealogy has also taken a giant scientific step forward. DNA can now to be organized into haplogroups that give insight into the broader scopes of racial makeup and ancestral migration patterns.

Most people know little of their ancestry. So, who were they – our unknown ancestors? Will we find pirates, smugglers, criminals? Perhaps we’ll discover we are descendents of queens, kings and noblemen? We each have our own stories: the black sheep, the Civil War hero, the ancestors who fled to the United States, or the lost family fortune. Now is the time to get out your faded pictures, start asking your oldest relations about what they know, and discover your own family history.

Local Genealogical Society

Honolulu County Genealogical Society meets on the second Saturday of each month. You may find more information online at Or at

Other resources are, and .


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