Lisa made an interesting comment in response to my post called It Boggles My Mind which is a blog post about how I find it incredible that there are people who are not the least bit interested in their family history.
Lisa disagreed with me when I referred to genealogy as a hobby.
"I disagree on one thing you said though, this is NOT a hobby. It is much more than that. I call it my life's work. We are writing and preserving history and without the genealogists of today, much will be lost tomorrow. "
Lisa has a good point. I agree that we are writing and preserving history (as well as finding facts). I agree that genealogy is important.
But is it indeed a hobby? Or something more ... what else can we call this activity we engage in?
Let's first look at the actual definition of the word HOBBY
A hobby is defined as an activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.
* I pursue genealogy in my spare time.
* I research my family tree for pleasure, not profit.
* I am passionate, perhaps even obsessed about my ancestors and genealogy.
* Research into my Genealogy is not my full-time job.
It seems to me then that my pursuit of genealogy fits the definition of a hobby.
I don't believe that applying the term "hobby" is necessarily negative. I don't think that calling an activity a hobby is demeaning. The common pre-conception may be that a hobby is little more than an entertaining distraction from life, but that's not an accurate definition.
As far as I'm concerned, if you don't pursue genealogy as a full time "JOB" which pays your bills, then it's a hobby. It can be a passionate, all-consuming hobby. It can be, as Lisa says, your life's work. You can be 100% committed to finding and preserving your family history. But if you are paying your bills by working at some occupation other than genealogist, you are engaging in a hobby.
I'm interested in what others think. Do you have a good word for what we avid genealogists engage in? I'm open to suggestions for a term other than "hobby" but until I hear one that fits, I'm still going to say that I have a hobby I love, called genealogy. It's my passion, it's all-consuming, and I think it's incredibly important to find and document my ancestral trail, but in the end it's my hobby.