What stands in our way?

Many of us have confronted the question, “who am I?” And we can’t count the number of times we’ve heard someone say, “I wish I knew something about my ancestors.” But how many of us take the next steps to answer the questions? And when we do take those next steps, how many of us are faced with barriers so challenging that we walk away from the quest of family discoveries altogether?

What are the challenges that stand in our way of learning more about our ancestors? And why are these nagging questions so often left alone, untouched and unanswered?

Among Ancestors unKnown students in Charleston, we discovered one issue that likely affects young and adult family history researchers alike: tight-lipped family members.


They might be the only ones in the family who have any knowledge of the ancestors. Perhaps they’re even holding onto childhood memories of experiences and lessons learned directly from those ancestors. But for any number of reasons, they don’t want to share with you, the researcher. Perhaps the memories are associated with a personal pain. Or maybe a family estrangement has led to the unrelenting silence. And we can’t be the only ones with a grumpy elder who just doesn’t want to put up with all those pesky questions. They probably respond with something like, “what do you wanna to know for?”

So we’re curious: have any of you family historians faced the ever so frustrating challenge of tight-lipped family members? If so, how did you overcome that barrier? And what other issues or challenges stand in the way of your genealogy research?

And for the many of you who ask the questions of family history but have not yet pursued the knowledge, what’s standing in your way?

We’d love to hear (and learn) from you in the comments…

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