The recent surge in ancestry resources and interest in one’s ancestry has come to the University of New Hampshire (UNH), with the newly established UNH Genealogy Club. The Genealogy Club is being established by sophomore genetics major Aidan Walsh. Walsh’s experience with genealogy is one long-held.
“I’ve been really interested in my own family history…for about 10 years.” Walsh said in explaining his reason to start the club. Walsh started his own genealogy work with a popular resource, Ancestry.com, to trace his family history 10 years ago, citing an absence of knowledge of his paternal side.
He has since used multiple genealogy resources, naming DNA kits such as 23andMe, where users can provide DNA samples to genealogy companies that will then generate information about one’s ancestry.
“I know a lot about my family,” he said.
Last year, as a first-year genetics student—whose major was inspired by his genealogy work—Walsh said he noticed an absence of a genealogy club on campus. This was despite the popularity of genealogy: “It’s the second most common hobby in the United States,” he said.
Remiss over this, he created the club. Genealogy presents an “opportunity…to learn more about [oneself],” he said.
The club will have a style uncommon to other organizations on campus, as Walsh said that the meetings will be “very casual,” expecting them to be a “thinktank” of genealogy interest. The meetings will be in a tutor format. Walsh and other members will help students begin the process of discovering their own genealogy, such as learning how to use Ancestry.com.
Students will get “whatever they put into it; whether learning how and doing, or doing with help,” he said. “It’s person by person.”
Students will not be expected to attend every meeting, instead coming as they wish, such as with questions about how to pursue an aspect of their genealogy or use a resource.
“People’s heritage is different. Everyone’s story…is different,” he said. However, students are welcome to attend every meeting.
The club is currently in a preliminary period, Walsh said, or a recognition period, as mandated by the Memorial Union & Student Activities for every new organization established on campus. This is a month-long period, Walsh explained, where the club has to have seven other members listed to be recognized as a new organization.
In his excitement for the club, Walsh stressed how strong of an impact genealogy can have: someone can “find the truth about your family…find the truth about yourself.”
He did note that genealogy can uncover familial skeletons in the closet. “It can be a very sensitive topic,” but nonetheless, “It’s rewarding.”
To kick off the club, Walsh will hold an informational meeting, where interested students will determine the rate at which the club meets and will draft a constitution, as required for every organization.
The informational meeting of the UNH Genealogy Club is Monday, Nov. 4 in MUB 207 at 7 p.m. The first official meeting and meeting schedule will be determined on Nov. 4. The Genealogy Club can also be found on Instagram: @unh_genealogy_club.