Friday, 1 April 2011

A is for Addiction

I recall reading that people addicted to cigarettes are eight times more likely than non-smokers to have gotten a buzz from their very first cigarette.  Not me; I could never talk myself into inhaling.

I have another addiction:  genealogy.  And it appears to be contagious.

Recently, my little one (the Bean) has been asking to use my account on the laptop so she can use my Ancestry account to search for records about our relatives.  She wants to stay up to watch Who Do You Think You Are too.  She's hooked.

It's happening at work too.  One lunch hour, I was looking up a photo J had seen, to see if with my account we could find more info on the photo and who posted it -- it seemed to be a crop of an old family group shot she had at home.  Then in a mere 15 minutes we found a bunch of info about ML's grandfather's many marriages and even more siblings.  Next thing I knew, ML was spending five hours each evening on Ancestry, forgetting to have supper!

It made me think about when my Sweetie got the bug.  My dad had been corresponding with distant Leahy cousin in the States and Iwould print our cousin's emails for dad and send dad's stuff back to cousin.  Sweetie saw this all going back and forth and thought he'd look into his side of the family.  So he did what everyone should do as a first step:

TIP:  Start with what you know.

That wasn't a whole lot.  He knew the Burrows family was English and that his grandad, Alfred, had fought in WWI for Australia.  On to step two:

TIP: Ask your parents.  WHILE THEY'RE STILL HERE! 

It was a Sunday morning and the Bean and I were heading out to the mall.  Sweetie called his dad and learned:
  • Grandad was born in Devon, England
  • His siblings were Florence, Ernest, Albert and Sidney.
That was pretty much it.  Sweetie asked what Grandad's parents names were.  His dad only knew Alfred's mother.  They called her "Granny Burrows."

It wasn't much to go on, but to my surprise, by the time we got back from the mall, Sweetie had identified Granny's first name, Lucy, and his place of birth on Grandad's enlistment papers.  Then he'd gone on Ancestry and found the family living in Devon in the 1901 Census of England -- easy peasy, there was the family with a mother Lucy and all the right children named.  And bonus: Alfred's father was named James.  We had to subscribe to Ancestry to see more details.  And within a day or two, we had traced James back to his parents, James and Martha, and then traced widow Martha forward through the years.

It may be some gene somewhere that determines if you will become quickly addicted to cigarettes, but my theory is that with genealogy, the addiction comes from the perfect mix of instant gratification and challenge.  For many of us, just an hour of searching will turn up interesting information we never knew.   It's into that second hour that you start to feel like you're searching for a needle in a haystack (thank goodness I have very few Smiths in the family)!

The buzz from finding something new, erases the frustration of the searching.  I'm feeling a bit like a lab rat as I write this. I'm probably not the first to observe this phenomenon.

My name is Jim's Girl, and I'm a genalogiholic.  I hope you are too.


  1. I remember listening to my grandmother's tales and realizing that once she died, they would be gone forever.

  2. I hope I can follow my own tip and record as many of the stories as I can from real people... records only tell us part of the story.

  3. Great post! My post tomorrow is about my surname and a little about my coat of arms, which I know nothing about. :)

    Glad to be your latest follower!

    Matt Conlon dot com
    Matt's Brew Log

  4. An addiction it surely is!
    Best to infect family members with it so they are supportive when you want to spend a week at a genealogy conference :-)
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  5. I smoked for a couple periods of my life but always kicked the habit pretty easily. I haven't smoked for 14 years now. I do tend to be addicted to certain activities though.
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