Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Every Family Has a Story, And Yours Probably Sucks

The Times has another of those "genealogists are (and should be) only interested in famous ancestors" articles, this time by Sathnam Sanghera.

Genealogists also have a habit of remarking that “every family has a story”. But it’s not necessarily a story worth telling.
Given the huge number of worthless family stories in the world, how fortuitous that Sanghera found his own worth telling.
And before anyone points out the hypocrisy of a memoirist slagging off genealogy, life writing and genealogy are completely different. One being the equivalent of an interest in music, the other the equivalent of an interest in hi-fi equipment.
No, one is the equivalent of the narcissist who talks of nothing but himself, the other the equivalent of the empathic person who shows legitimate interest in the stories of others. You know, the kind of person who might actually buy and enjoy Sanghera's memoirs.

Dana Huff

I get so tired of these kinds of stories. Why do they assume genealogists are only interested in finding famous relatives? Do they ever interview professional genealogists for these stories to ask them why they do it? I think it's a great way to feel like you're a part of history, to connect to another time.


Hi, Chris,

See my Tracing the Tribe post for more on this UK story following on the heels of the NYT television reviewer who didn't "get" WDYTYA?

Best wishes
Schelly Talalay Dardashti

Miz J

Once again, Chris, your final sentence is what brings me back for more.

Greta Koehl

Badabing! You nailed him! It's so easy for a guy like him to remain ignorant when the only person he really listens to is himself.


I'm with you Chris, these articles and opinions irritate me so, especially the thought:

"Show me a genealogist and I’ll show you someone who is basically obsessed with proving that they come from royal, aristocratic or celebrity lineage."

Not that I haven't met genealogists that do seem more focused on a membership or a certificate than actually learning about an individual, but, for me, I'll take the discovery of a letter or diary of an ancestor over admission into a "society" any day.

Steve Danko

It looks like either The Times or Sathnam Sanghera himself has stopped approving comments submitted to this article. I submitted a very polite comment last week describing my motivation for genealogical research, but my comment has yet to appear online. I have only one thing to say about that: meh.

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