Jan 6, 2023

Looking Back

January 6, 2023

It’s now been nearly three years since Covid burst into our lives. Although I’ve been lucky enough to stay healthy, the pandemic has certainly impacted all aspects of my life. That includes genealogy.


In the years before the pandemic, I attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy for an in-depth dive into one aspect of genealogy numerous times. In addition, at least once a year I attended a multi-day genealogy conference such as the Genealogy Jamboree in California and the NGS conference in Washington, D.C. In addition, there were local one-day seminars in Swedish, Irish and DNA research in Denver. I helped organize our own Conference for a Cause featuring a nationally known speaker.


In addition to the conferences and seminars, I usually took a week-long trip to the Family History Library each year. I also often spent a week at a locale where my ancestors had lived. Just a month before the pandemic began, I was in southern New Jersey digging into the lives of my husband’s family.


Since the pandemic I’ve attended exactly zero in-person conferences or seminars. Most of the conferences and seminars that I used to attend are available via Zoom, but thanks to a less-than-speedy internet connection that option hasn’t been viable for me.


Perhaps I’m not disciplined enough, but I find sitting in front of my computer and researching or watching programs while the life of the household goes on around me difficult. I’m all too aware that the laundry needs to be done or that the cats are climbing on my keyboard or that the doorbell is ringing. Those are problems for me, even when my sketchy internet connection is working well.


Clearly, many people love the ease of going to meetings or attending a conference in their pajamas. Last summer my local genealogy society tried having monthly meetings both in person and via Zoom. I attended a few of the meetings, but out of a membership of nearly 200, only half a dozen people showed up in person.


I’ve heard people talking about how wonderful it is to be able to attend an institute program without having to leave home. No hassles of travel and sleeping in hotels and eating in mediocre restaurants.


I guess I’m in the minority, but for me the travel and being in a new place where I don’t have to worry about my day-to-day life is part of the attraction. I like meeting new people and spontaneously deciding to go to lunch together to discuss our genealogy. Zoom just doesn’t do that for me.


I’m not sure that genealogy as it was before the pandemic will ever truly return. Virtual meetings and seminars are probably here to stay. I suppose that I’ll adjust to the new normal eventually. Still, I miss the old days when doing genealogy meant more than sitting down at my computer.


Carol Stetser