While doing genealogy research, I end up going to Wikipedia a lot to do many things from finding locations of cities in Europe to finding which county a city is in. It takes a few steps to browse to Wikipedia, then to the English version, and then try to find my entry.
Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have a nice feature that allows you to add custom search engines to your browser that can be tied to a short-hand keyword. For example, in both my versions of Firefox and Chrome, I just need to type “w Poland” in my address bar and I will be taken to the “Poland” page on Wikipedia.
I have sometimes thought about this question. Why does genealogy interest me so much? I was never really much into history classes. I usually did enough in them just to get by, even in college when I was already doing some genealogy research. I remember being bored out of my skull in my US History class and also my Western Civilization class. Now, I absorb as many history TV shows and documentaries that I can. The key for me seems to somehow tie the history to my family tree. I guess it makes the history seem more relatable. Though, I have always had a small interest in “local” history, which is similar to history related to my family tree. Local history has to do with my local area, be it my hometown or even my house.
The other reason I think I enjoy genealogy so much is I get to problem solve and work with data. I’ve noticed over the last few years at my job that I’m a pretty good problem solver. I am able to think outside the box and rule out different possibilities until I come to pretty safe conclusion. With data, I’ve always been a data junkie. You can show me a collection of data on almost any mundane thing and I’ll be excited to graph that data and look at it in different ways. I seem to have a knack for noticing patterns and other small fluctuations in streams of data which allows me to pick out certain things. I’m pretty sure I get that ability from my dad. You could rarely get anything past him as he would notice even small changes in how things were on a normal day.
For example, there was this program I ran across many years ago called Moodstats. It doesn’t look to be active anymore since the main site isn’t working. It was primarily for tracking you mood using a number from 1 to 10. You do this everyday and then after awhile you could use that data to see how your mood changed. The cool thing was, you could also make your own tracking options like Creativity, Stress, and even Hours of Sleep. I was even excited to play around with that data. Sometimes I love opening up some old document or census data and just browsing through it and seeing all of the patterns. These patterns can sometimes tell a lot, like how groups of families spread out or how people immigrated together, etc.
The final reason is probably on everyone’s list. I love breaking down the mystery of myself, so to speak. Every piece of data I uncover and ancestor I discover creates a new picture of me or my wife and daughter. This life-long project will never end, but it never gets boring because every new item I find directly relates to me.
Why do you think genealogy interests you so much? If you do a post, link it in the comments and I’ll create a new post in the near future with a list of everyone’s entries.