Saturday, 3 May 2014

Family History - A Key to Meaningful Conversation

I am presently on the high seas on a cruise ship and have lost track of time. I note that the post for the 3rd of May has already appeared but I also note that in Hawaii and other places in the Pacific it is still the 2nd of May so I am bashing out a post and hoping that the ship's internet will behave and allow me to post it before midnight.

What strikes me as I enter into conversations with fellow cruisers and visit sites in various countries is that many people outside my genealogy circle are interested in family history especially if it relates to a place or location familiar to them. Being able to make a connection with a fellow traveller from a village or town through a story of one of my ancestors from that area breaks down barriers and enables one to enter into meaningful and interesting conversations. 

I just had coffee with a Scotsman who loves whisky, he was waiting for the bar to open. When I told him we had ancestors from Islay, home of eight malt whisky distilleries, we were able to skip those questions one normally asks when meeting someone new and launch into a meaningful conversation about Islay, the clearances and beautiful 12th century Scottish Churches. That gentleman is presently paying someone to research his Scottish roots. When his wife from Aberdeen joined us I told her of my issues in tracing my "James Duncan" from Aberdeen ; she wished me luck and said "That is like trying to find John Smith".

Yesterday a lady noted that I had a Familysearch pen and that started a conversation. It turns out that she is an avid family historian and was most impressed that I had such a prize. Our conversation immediately turned to the village in which she lives, the lectures she attends and a discussion of the  1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831 English Censuses.

The Americans on this trip are well travelled but very few of them have ventured to the genealogy mecca of Salt Lake City. So many have been interested in our stories of visits to that place for Rootstech and The Family History Library and have asked many probing questions..

On this trip I have connected with people from the UK, Ireland, Canada and the US with whom I have been able to discuss family history and places that are familiar to them. My family history stories have given me a set of keys to enter into interesting conversations with fellow travellers.


  1. It's so true having a hook when speaking with strangers makes the conversation flow so much more easily. I've done it at meet and mingle work events for years, but now I can do it at genealogy events!

  2. And here I am in Jordan researching ancestors in Australia for a a fellow traveller from England. This is certainly Worldwide Genealogy.

    And I've made a breakthrough.


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