Developing or nurturing a green thumb is a popular hobby for folks who have recently found themselves with more time on their hands (aka “retired”).
But planting flowers and vegetables isn’t the only type of garden hobby going on these days. While there has always been a level of interest in regard to genealogy, easier access to records and the advent of new tools has turned this “hobby” into a $1.6 billion industry!
June 14 is “Family History Day” and studies estimate approximately 84 million people around the world are currently involved in genealogical research of some kind. The majority of these individuals are women over the age of 55, whose enthusiasm is attributed to making genealogy one of the fastest growing leisure pursuits.
Whereas a century ago, “antiquarians” researched family trees find links to nobility, as a way of improving their status within a community, or to settle issues of inheritance, today the most common reason is to satisfy curiosity, and to maintain ties to family in a busy, disconnected world.
Today, several online databases exist – the most well-known is Ancestry.com – encompassing family trees from a host of cultural and religious backgrounds, putting genealogical research within reach of anyone who wants to invest the time, effort (and often money) to find out “who they are.”
Genealogy “experts” suggest these tips for getting started:
- Create forms that will help you track relatives as the “branches” of your tree starts to grow. (Basic forms are available free online at www.FamilyTreeMagazine.com).
- Write down basic information about yourself, your parents, siblings, etc. This information should include name, date of birth and place of birth. If you have information about schools, employment, military service and the like, those may be helpful as you continue your search.
- Collect marriage, birth and death certificates for yourself and immediate family members (available via the U.S. Vital Records Information website – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm).
- Interview family members, if possible, to glean vital information from farther out on your family tree.
Tools that are helpful in your genealogy search include:
- Membership in an online database, such as Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com).
- Documents from the library and historical society in your hometown (and for each member/generation on your family tree).
- Census forms (currently available for the census years from 1790 through 1920, in the U.S.).
- DNA test kit (costs vary).
- Cemetery/Interment records (many sites now include photos and catalogued information about those interred).
The ever-increasing availability of data on the Internet, combined with the interest and zeal with which Baby Boomers approach a worthwhile pursuit has made genealogy research a fast-growing hobby that will allow current and future generations to better understand their place in civilization.
The sheer amount of tools and data acquired by enthusiasts can be easily organized and used in the office/guest room or the casita in your Windsong home, where flexible spaces, livable floor plans and carefree living afford time for Boomers to conduct online research or travel to pursue a family-tree “lead.” And with neighbors who hail from every corner of the U.S., you might just find a distant relative living up the street!
Welcome home to Windsong, Where Life’s A Breeze!