How to Recover from a Genealogy Slump

Sad man holding pillow

Photo Credit: "Sad Man Holding Pillow" by Hang_In_There on Flickr.

I have a confession to make:  I’ve been in a major genealogy slump for the last two months.

Generally, when my non-genealogy life becomes too crazy and stressful, my genealogy life suffers.  The more stressful my non-genealogy life is, the more cloudy my brain becomes and it isn’t long before I can’t focus or get easily distracted.  It isn’t long before my genealogy begins to suffer.

Once you are in that place of “blah”, it can be so hard to get out of it.  I started watching all my genealogy friends and feeling envious – popping out blog posts left and right, making new discoveries, and enjoying new tech toys while I was stuck in “blah-land”.

But I’m here to say there is light at the end of the tunnel.  There is hope.  There is a way out of “blah-land”.  So what is the secret?

Find Inspiration

How do you find inspiration?  Different things work for different people, but here is a list to get you started:

  • Watch Who Do You Think You Are
  • Watch The Generations Project
  • Attend a genealogy society meeting
  • Attend a genealogy lecture
  • Attend a genealogy conference/seminar/event-of-some-kind
  • Read a genealogy blog you love
  • Find a new genealogy blog to read
  • Read any genealogy blog
  • Listen to The Genealogy Gems Podcast (How can you NOT feel inspired by Lisa Louise Cooke – she is just so bubbly and happy!  It is like listening to your own personal cheerleader)
  • Listen to The Genealogy Guys Podcast (George G. Morgan and Drew Smith and sometimes, a cat sidekick.  Need I say more?)
  • Listen to The Family Tree Magazine Podcast (Hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke).
  • Watch genealogy videos on Youtube
  • Try a new library or archive
  • Listen to Geneabloggers Radio (Good hosts + Good Guests + Crazy Chatroom = one fun night)
  • Try a new genealogy website
  • Chat with a genealogy friend
  • Buy a new tech toy
  • And the list goes on…

What got me inspired?  Last week’s Who Do You Think You Are episode with Reba.  I already love her and add the fact that her journey included the story of her ancestor coming to American Colonies as a child and I am hooked (again).

Add a dash of Caroline Pointer’s post, Problems with Evernote and Genealogy?, a conversation with my dad about the 1940 census that didn’t end in eye rolls, and a pinch of Ben & Jerry’s binges while blasting Adele music and I’m feeling back to my usual genealogy enthusiastic self.

Have you ever had a genealogy slump before?  How did you get out of it?  What inspires you?

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9 responses to “How to Recover from a Genealogy Slump

  1. Been there with you. No blog posts from me for a month and not much genealogy. Culprit = 65-hour work weeks. But you are right, there are remedies, and I really like your list of them. Tonight I watched Who Do You Think You Are, and in a couple of weeks I am going to a genealogy conference.
    Greta Koehl´s last blog post ..Transcription Tuesday: Murder Trial of William Carroll Brinlee

  2. It’s not a ‘slump’ if you make a conscious DECISION to take a break for one day, one week, one month (etc.). Slump sounds sooooo negative and as if you’re dragging your a–. I very actively remind myself of what I love about genealogy, that I’m not in a race with anyone, no self-imposed deadlines allowed, and go looking for someone to inspire me – either a blogger, or another ancestor. Go for it, Elyse – thanks for posting!

  3. Elyse Dahling!- your post could not have come at a better time.

    I am on that same boat with Greta – over a month since I have even looked at my blog. I have no idea what caused this FUNK (I prefer Funk rather than Slump) What I do know is that now I don’t feel like beating myself up over it. I guess I am not the only one.

    The funk caused me to think and do irrational things. Like the one I did today – I sent in my application to become a certified genealogist to BCG. The clock has started ticking and here I still sit, nervously laughing like a maniac. I still cannot believe that I finally did it.

    So that is what is getting me going again.
    Sheri Fenley´s last blog post ..Sutro Library Has A New Home!

  4. I had one that lasted from the early 90’s until now. My research was all in manila folders…no personal computers when I began in the 1980’s. So, I’m only now trying to enter my information into Family Tree Maker and try and figure everything out. Welcome to the year 2012. There’s so much out there now and everything is so overwhelming.
    Betty´s last blog post ..Alphabe-Thursday…"P" as in PINK Salad

  5. I’m honored to hear that you would include my podcasts as pick me uppers! As I said in the dedication of my new book on newspaper research, my wonderful listeners motivate me to get out of bed each morning and take on the genealogy day! SWAK at ya!

  6. Visit a local pioneer cemetery and look for headstones of people who died young –who obviously had no descendants. Select a couple headstones and take photos of the markers. Then use your online and old-school resources to try to discover their ancestry and any family history. Because it is a local cemetery, you can easily do courthouse searches for records as well as newspaper searches in your local library. When you have gathered some insights, arrange the information and post to find-a-grave,, and/or donate to your local library/genealogy center.

    This is a good way to learn new search strategies, refine your skills by making new discoveries, and pay respect to someone who may have been completely forgotten until now.

  7. Elyse,
    Your post is very inspiring to me! I just started a blog this month and so far can’t turn off my thoughts. I write in my head all of the time. It’s driving me nuts! LOL But, seriously, I know that will stop at some point, so I’m saving this post for ‘future reference!’ I’mso glad that I ‘found’ you on Facebook when I did. :)
    Carla Love Maitland´s last blog post ..Goddess

  8. I have been sitting on my Family Genealogy project for over two years. In fact I was expecting help from other members of the family and finally I figured it out that it is not going to work out.

    And on a fine morning this month I decided to start the project by moving the domain from blogger to WP and started working on the tree. I need to do the basic work for everyone and then later other members of the family can start contributing.

    Yes, I been there, not 2 months but almost 2 years in the genealogy slump.

  9. Thanks for the link. I have cycled through times of intense genealogical research and then back to slumps or perhaps ‘burn out’. I’m not sure what is the more accurate description. I do find that sometimes taking time away from the elusive ancestor sometimes let’s me gain new perspective or at least work off the frustration until I’m ready to go back at it.

    I definitely agree with the generations project as a pick me up. I like the show because the profiled individual uses their genealogy research of their ancestors (their past) to resolve or address issues they are facing in the present. I recommend the later sessions which dont’ have a host. (Sorry season 1 hostess lady!)
    Chris´s last blog post ..Comment on A Little Known Secret for Creating a Family History Research Log by Karen K

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