"Motivation Monday" is a blogging prompt from Geneabloggers that is supposed to prompt us to write about our goals or our own motivation for doing our family history research. After my post yesterday about the age gap in genealogy, I decided to use this Motivation Monday as a continuation of that discussion and talk about how we get younger generations motivated to want to do family history research.
The question of how to motivate someone to do something that is, quite honestly, hard work, is a difficult one at best. Let's face it, every experienced genealogist has probably at one point or another found themselves staring at the mountain of research and wondered just why they keep doing this. In the article I mentioned yesterday, the author says that to be successful at family history research, the researcher must have a high level of internal motivation because there just aren't that many tangible rewards in this "hobby." I both agree and disagree with that assessment.
Internal motivation is a huge key in family history research without a doubt. There has to be something inside of us that drives us to keep going forward when there doesn't seem to be any other "goal" in sight. However, that is true of any past time that is hard work whether it be genealogy, sports, or anything else. The real challenge is not to find the internal motivation, it is to find that external "jump start" motivation that gets us going and keeps us going.
The possibilities for external motivations for the younger generations are as limitless as the stories we run across doing our research. As a matter of fact, it is those stories that can be the motivation. Find an intriguing story about one of your ancestors (such as the story I have posted before about my ancestor who fought in the American Revolution) and pass it down to someone younger. What teen or young adult wouldn't be fascinated and intrigued by finding out that they are related to someone who fought in the American Revolution? Or in my case, you should have seen the looks in my daughter's eyes when I told them that they were related to President Dwight Eisenhower. Or pass on a family "legend" that you are seeking to prove or disprove. Again, telling someone from the younger generation that they may possibly be related to Mary, Queen of Scots is a pretty fantastic motivator!
If there aren't intriguing stories in your family history (which I seriously doubt that many of us have no stories), then find out about the past times of your ancestors and relate those to younger generations. Or talk to them about how their ancestors would have viewed the current events of their time. Imagine talking to someone younger about what their great great grandfather thought about the Lincoln assassination or what their ancestors thought about slavery or the War of 1812.
The possibilities for motivating younger generations to get involved in family history research are limitless. It will, however, take some hard work on our part to relate to younger people, find out what might provide that spark and then dig into our vast resource of family history stories and share the one that will spark them. After all, isn't genealogy really about passing on those stories and keeping our family history alive?