Young Presenter Tries to Interest Others in Family History

Matthew Hovorka

If you’re a kid and you think you could, like, be interested in family history, Matthew Hovorka might be able to help. And if you’re an adult, he just might have something to offer you too.

Matthew, of Cedar Hills, Utah, has been doing genealogy for several years. At age 15 (almost 16), he already is a presenter at genealogy conferences.

“With conferences, I started doing that after I made a bet with a friend, and then I lost the bet when I got accepted as a presenter,” he explained. He has presented at Rootstech, the Conference on Family History & Genealogy, and at smaller conferences. “Mainly this and Rootstech are the big ones. I helped with a lot of the booth stuff before here, but this is the first time as a presenter.”

Matthew’s mother Janet Hovorka often presents at genealogy conferences as well (see http://www.janethovorka.com), so genealogy is something Matthew grew up with.

As a presenter, “I’m kind of doing it about people getting their own things started without having their parents help them,” he said. “A lot of people wait for somebody else to motivate them. My presentation is about how to get started on your own.”

Matthew found his own motivation at age 12. “A lot of my family history is done,” he said, “but like they have the names and places but it’s completely disorganized all over the place. So I got started really doing genealogy. It was for a Christmas gift for my grandparents. Our great-grandfather had this big book of parish records, but it’s all, like, dis-attached. I started going through, and you just have to kind of do it page by page, so I started doing that and did 700 pages and gave it to them for a Christmas present. And then I just kept going after that.”

His expertise is in organization. “A lot of what I’ve done is like attach it to each other and get the sources in place, so that’s kind of what I’ve gotten good at. But my presentation is about getting affiliated with the big stuff you need to use first, like how to use FamilySearch and Ancestry and MyHeritage, getting a place started with that. There’s some cool online stuff with MyHeritage–they have some little games and things. They’re good for like family home evenings and youth activities. A lot of times you can get bored in between and you can go online and mess with that for like five minutes and it gets you interested again, and you can go back and do it.”

His presentation is “focused a lot on youth and how to do it,” he says. “But again, it’s the same for everyone. The website doesn’t care how old you are. And then it goes through some fun things you can do to get other people interested as well.”

Is Matthew thinking about genealogy as a career? Maybe. “It wouldn’t be bad if it happened to me, but I have other things I want to do, like zoology and biology, stuff like that. But yeah, it would be enjoyable I think.”

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