This is it… the genealogy grind. It’s the part that we don’t talk about when we announce the name of a found ancestor. The genealogy grind takes time. It’s the hours staring at a computer screen at 2 am, hoping that the pieces of research come together. It is the hours spent in workshops, seminars, listening to podcasts, conferences, webinars, reading books, blogs, and asking questions in Facebook groups. The genealogy grind is hours spent hunched over musky books, and time faded records in county courthouses, libraries, and little historical society research rooms.
And yet, you put in the time, even if it takes years.
The genealogy grind is humbling. The genealogy grind is triangulating, painting and uploading your DNA everywhere to find the cousin match you need to solve your puzzle. It is ordering records and patiently waiting, hoping for clues, and having the record arrive with no answers. The genealogy grind is collaborating, and being humble enough to ask for help, to learn what you don’t know or see your research in a new light. It’s deciphering handwriting, other languages, and historical context. It’s sometimes crying, or temporarily quitting or throwing your notebook across the room when you have worked so hard to understand something, and it just won’t click.
And yet, you humble yourself, adapting to change.
The genealogy grind is lonely. It’s you alone with your computer. It’s you alone in those stacks of books in a remote room. The genealogy grind is you watching a person’s eyes glaze over in boredom during a conversation about your latest breakthrough, before they change the subject. It is spending time with the dead, researching, and preserving their lives.
And then, eventually, you find your genealogy tribe.
It is difficult, but you grind. Because you know that what you do is important. You grind, because you know that you make a difference. You grind, because you know the ancestors have chosen YOU to speak their names, and tell their stories.
You persist in the genealogy grind, because just when you feel like giving up on finding #AliceMiller, or your other brickwall relative, you remove one more brick through a record, or DNA match, or a class, or a book, or a cousin, or some other serendipity. And you grind closer.
The genealogy grind means you can finally speak your ancestor’s name, after searching over 8 years to find them.
My great-great-great grandmother’s name was Mary Reilly.
This is why I persist in the genealogy grind.
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week – Put aside that research. Your ancestor is dead. They aren’t going anywhere. Search for a different ancestor. Sometimes you can get so focused on finding your great great grandmother #AliceMiller, that you almost miss a different line’s great-great-great grandmother ready to be found. True story.
Bonus Points – Adapt the techniques you’ve learned for your brickwall to find someone else. Go wide on your tree instead of up. Even if they aren’t in your direct line, they may be the person you need to guide you to a different break through.
Good post…love your comment about your ancestor is dead, basically take a break from one and look at another. Thanks
Thanks Shelley! I think it’s like any other challenge or problem we face in life. Taking a break, can hopefully lead to a break through… even if it’s not the one we are expecting.
That pesky Alice Miller didn’t stand a chance against your sleuthing
I’m still searching for Alice Miller. I found the church record for my great grandfather Raymond Miller. It has her name listed in parentheses Can’t find crossed out, Don’t know crossed out, maiden name crossed out, maiden name underlined with Penkosky written above it. I’ll show you when I see you next.
Glad to know I’m not the only one up at 2 am researching the ancestors! The research I love. My genealogy grind is documenting everything — most likely one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2020 🙂
Yes, the “grind” is very familiar! And you’re so right. It’s worth it and wonderful when we find our tribe.
You are so right about the “grind”. I feel researching my family history has proved I have more patience than I thought – I don’t like to give up on a brick wall nor on an enquiry from others.
You described “the grind” perfectly, but you know we just can’t walk away from the puzzle without putting that specific piece in place! LOL But, you are right, that is when it is time to pick up a different piece of the puzzle. That is how I keep my sanity as I am researching. I can be found jumping all over my family tree like a monkey at times!