Left or Right Brained Genealogist?

human brainAre you right-brained or left-brained and does it make a difference in your genealogy research?  FYI, people with right-brain dominance are characterized as having a more creative nature, choose to be artists, musicians, or actors, and are prone to daydreaming.   Or are you left-brained?  Do you prefer classical music, verbal instruction, logic, and like to read? If you want possible verification about your thinking process , try this test  http://en.sommer-sommer.com/braintest/ I found that I am almost equal between my left and right brained functions, which might explain a few things such as preferring classical music (left), but also like rock and some country (right); good at algebra (left), but not geometry (right); prefer verbal instructions (left) to reading instructions (right).  I play clarinet, flute, and piano using both hands equally .   I also like dogs (right) and  cats (left)!

Does the brain function affect how you approach your genealogy research and should it?   I would say that most people who start with an online website such as ancestry.com, allow the website to direct where you start with your family.  In other words, it is organized with the first search being “census & voters lists”, then “birth, marriage & death”, and so on, which may appeal to the organized, logical left brained thinkers.   I know this is how I started online  many years ago.  Once I had quite a few dates, vital records, and locations in place, however, I became very interested in the story behind the foundational information at hand.  To the credit of ancestry.com, they have recently added the story behind the basics.  Now the right brained have an alternative to basic fact finding, although it is possible that some of the left brained people might object to the addition of the story side being added to Ancestry’ s website.  It may go without saying that I personally like both and ancestry.com gives me a choice of either/or, or both types of information.

As I look back on how I originally became interested in genealogy, I believe I started with the right brain functions … in other words, the stories from aunts, uncles, and other relatives.  I spent two years gathering stories about my husband ’ s family because the aunts and uncles were still living.  I interviewed my cousin and videoed his stories over several days, then I checked and verified the facts.  Did I do this in a conscience  “ I must start with my right brain today ?”   No, of course not, but if you are predominantly left or right brained, it may very well determine how you start(ed) and where your interests are in regard to finding information on your family history.  Facts or stories … or both?

sherlock holmes baker street

May I suggest that if you are interested in….  “ Just the Facts! ”   start with dates, vital records such as birth, marriage and death, census information, etc.   In fact, marriage records are some of the earliest records available.  Gather documents and certificates from the people most likely to have the information, such as the oldest member of your family still living,  your parents or even cousins and siblings, then proceed from there.  You can also find this kind of information online at ancestry.com, familytree.org,  my heritage.com , and findmypast.com, to name just a few of the tree building websites available.  I would also recommend trying out the DNA tests that are offered to provide you with more facts about your heritage.  I will write more about DNA in another post.

If you are interested in the stories behind the facts, then start by interviewing your family members who have a knack for story telling.  I, again,  interviewed my cousin who is about 25 years older than I am and a superb storyteller.  I used an old Sony  handycam  to record the stories, but you could just as easily use a digital voice recorder, even a smartphone recording app and then take pictures to add to the stories later.  Here is my less than 2 minute amateur video of my cousin in California.

cat dreamingAre you a dreamer?  Do you favor certain colors such as blue, like all kinds of music, enjoy being  spontaneous … .then you may be a right-brainer.  Or are you left-brained?  Do you prefer classical music, verbal instruction, logic, and like to read?  Did you take the test?  What ever side you’re on may determine how you much you enjoy the search.   If you are not a dreamer, then skip the lengthy stories.   If you are interested in the stories behind the facts, then start by interviewing your family members who have a knack for story telling. There are also websites such as storyline.com, storycorp.org,  story worth.com and a plethora of others.  Do you desire the stories and the facts?  Well, then…you and I have a lot in common.

So many awesome ways to begin and collect, organize, and share your research nowadays!   My suggestion when trying out a new site is to utilize the trial version if one is offered to find out if  you are comfortable with the layout, navigation, and, of course,  the type of search you want to pursue.  Happy hunting!