Why Research My Family History – The Reasons

By | July 9, 2016

Many people these days are researching their ancestry. Have you wondered why this is and asked the question ‘why research my family history‘? Genealogy has become the second most popular pastime in the United States today, gardening being the first. Genealogy is also the second most entered term on the Internet.

Why Research My Family History

Originally genealogy was done by the upper class of society, however over time it has become quite popular with the everyday person. But thirty years ago this was not the case as there were not many resources available to the budding genealogist.

Visits to the local archives and looking at microfilms was the main form of information available. This would have taken a family historian probably all day to find out just one piece of information.

Nowadays with the help of the Internet and computers we can find out pretty much anything about our ancestors and fairly quickly. We just pop on the Internet, go to a genealogy search website, such as Ancestry.com and find our ancestors pretty much straight away. Also, computer programs have made it remarkably easy to create and build a family tree.

==> Check out the Best Genealogy Software Programs Today! <==


The Rise of Genealogy Research

So now we are seeing far more people researching their family tree. It seems that everyone is either doing it or is at least thinking about it. After all everyone that I have met seems to want to know where they came from and who their ancestors were. It’s a pretty much interesting hobby and you never know what you may find.What Is A Genealogy DNA Test?

So what has caused this rise of interest? There must be more than one reason as to why genealogy has become so popular in recent years right? Well, there are at least three main reasons why we have seen a surge in popularity for this hobby.

The three main catalysts for this surge:

1. TV shows –  There are numerous TV shows these days that popularize genealogy. TV shows such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?‘ which help a celebrity on a journey to explore their family history. Other shows that have gained our interest include ‘Finding Our Roots‘ and ‘Genealogy Roadshow‘. Regular TV adverts that appear by Ancestry has also sparked interest in this hobby.

2. Easy access to information via the Internet – By this method people can quite easily get various bits of information regarding their family history. They can also view family trees submitted by other genealogists on various genealogy websites. Obviously using the Internet is by far easier for people than traveling all over the country visiting archives, libraries and cemeteries.

3. Commercials advertising DNA kits – When you have received your kit and have provided a sample of your saliva you then wait for a gene report. The report will show you a map of where your ancestors are likely to have come from. With the help of AncestryDNA you can also connect with cousins who share a similarity with your DNA. The vast reduction in price has seen a popularity with this type of research.

==> Learn more about what is Genetic Genealogy <==


Reasons For Researching Your Family History

In the What Is Genealogy? article I suggested that people often research their family history because they may think or know that they are related to somebody famous. Who knows, maybe you are related to Abraham Lincoln or have some connection to the 16th President of the United States. This though is only one reason why a person may conduct genealogy research.

Abraham Lincoln

So what are the main reasons why you initially research your family history?

Confirm family tales and stories – These may have been passed down through countless generations before coming to you. Recited repeatedly over so many years inaccuracies may have crept into these stories.

You may be wondering whether there is any truth to these or whether they are just tall tales. Obtaining certificates, records, or newspaper articles may help you prove these are true or not.

Trace ancestors journey – Your ancestors may have travelled from the other side of the country and you may be wondering why this was? Heck, they may have even travelled from the other side of the world.

Tracing your ancestors journey will give you an insight into their lives and the path of your ancestors. You can then tell your relatives and any interested people the route of your ancestors to the present day.

==> Check out historical maps of North America and Europe <==

Preserve the family’s history – You and your close relations may have numerous family heirlooms and are wondering who they belong to, what’s their story and what to do with them? Finding out all about these things in your possession can be rewarding.

You may find interesting facts along the way and you can pass these items and the stories attached to them onto future generations. You probably would want to do this now before they become lost, damaged or sold on.

How To Preserve Your Family Treasures

Family history research passed down – A relation of yours has been doing genealogy research for a number of years. They have then passed this onto you. Your relative may hope with a fresh pair of eyes that new light may shine on their research.

After so many years looking over the same notes they may have become disoriented with it all. You therefore have to pick up the mantle and carry on with the research.

Finding living cousins – You may be wondering just who is out there? Who shares a common ancestor with me? It is always fascinating to find someone in the world and connect with them. How different or how similar are they to you?

They may have interesting stories about your ancestors, be able to trace their paths and also fill in gaps in your research. These encounters will help enrich your knowledge of your ancestors lives.

Related to anyone famous – I suppose shows such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?‘ has sparked an interest in finding out whether there are any famous people in your family tree. There may have been an important and significant person in your family history.

They may have been a general, a politician, or even royalty for example. You may never know unless you start the journey and start tracing your family history.

Finally, the excitement – We like to research and we like to make connections, often finding new information along the way. However, for some it can become quite obsessive. The obvious signs are when you are still awake at 2a.m. trying to fight to stay awake just to trace a new lead.


Final Thoughts

I can safely say that I have researched my family history because of all of the reasons that I have discussed. Maybe not so much about being related to anyone famous, but it is still nice to know whether we are. Even if we are not they may have contributed significantly to the community around them.

During my genealogy research I have enjoyed proving stories that were passed down to me. It has also been a pleasure finding new stories that I can share with my family.

Tracing my ancestors journeys made me appreciate their lives more. By looking at historical maps I could see the distances that they made to find work. I could really see what life was like for them. It made me understand them even more than just knowing just their names and the key events in their life.

Write A Family History Book

Originally I just wanted to write my father’s stories. But then this grew into a hobby. I wanted to find out everything I could about my ancestors. I then began to make unexpected connections with living cousins who shared with me their own family history research.

I learned so much from them, which not only saved me time but also money as well. They passed onto me names, dates and also certificates, which then I did not have to.

So what are the reasons why you want to research your family history?


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

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If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

32 thoughts on “Why Research My Family History – The Reasons

  1. Leigh

    I think knowing where one comes from is very important. When I got married I really didn’t want to change my name due to my strong feelings and connections to my family stories. Even though certain family members have done a lot of their own research, I started my own on another part of my family history in high school. My great grandmother had received an invitation to live on an Indian Reservation and we realized if we could provide that proof along with more, I might have been able to get to go to college for free. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have much luck getting the type of in depth information we needed due to a lot of Natives changing their names due to the battles back then. It is important to know your history in the first place, but sometimes it can help you more than you think.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      It’s lovely that you share the same believes as I do. It’s important to know your history, where you come from and pass this onto further generations. My father has told me countless stories over the years and it would have been a terrible shame if these were not recorded.

      There will always be brick walls when researching, and although it looks like your one may not be knocked down it is important to record everything. You never know who will pick it up next and take it further.

      Reply
  2. Kevin

    It’s funny how you mentioned TV shows. My interest in genealogy began after seeing a show called Italians in America back in the 1990’s. After that, I started visiting different places to get family info. For the Italian records, I went to the local Family History Center, which was done by the Mormons. I got local Census Records from the State Archives, and US Census Records and passenger lists from the National Archives. I never used online sites like ancestry to find my roots. It was more fun doing it this way.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I’m glad you had fun going to the Family History Centre and also to archives. These days people are so tuned in with the online world. There are so many ways to get information and so much that can be put in to your family story. Whatever works best for the person researching their family history. In the end the result is a masterpiece that can be cherished forever

      Reply
  3. terry

    This is so very interesting! This is something that I have never done before, but now after reading through and looking at your website today it is definitely now going to be put on top of my ‘to-do’ list!
    Thank you
    ps – the tips are great and easy to follow!
    Kind regards
    Terry

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I am glad that I have inspired you. I have tried to provide information that is easy to follow. All the best with your family history research when you are ready to do so

      Reply
  4. Deedee

    isn’t it interesting to see genealogy research coming into the mainstream media a bit? I love watching “Who Do You Think You Are.” I do wish, though, that they would do some segments on how much time the researchers actually have to spend on digging out the records they present. For most people, it just isn’t as simple as they make it look! Still, it’s great that genealogy is getting the attention. You’ve listed a lot of great reasons for doing family history research. I especially like the one about confirming family stories. I’ve been able to unravel a few of those, but also find a lot more. So much fun!

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      The ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ show has brought genealogy into the mainstream, and so it has become more popular than ever. Although on that show professional genealogists and archivists do all the work for the celebrity. Whereas for you and me we do all that work, unless w pay someone to do it. Don’t get me wrong though it can be fun searching for your ancestors and when you find something interesting it can be quite interesting

      Reply
  5. Emma

    Your site is a great starting place for anyone looking to trace their routes and from someone who comes from a large family I have often thought about tracing my family tree, as many of my ancestors immigrated to different country years ago and the task seemed too daunting. But now I know where to start Thanks – I can see me being a regular visitor to your website

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thanks very much for like the information and the site. Sounds like you have an interesting family what with them moving to a different country. Maybe you can explore each ancestor in time. May I suggest this first step in tracing your family history. You can start by searching what sources of information at home that you may have. All the best with your genealogyresearch.

      Reply
  6. Jerry

    I personally have seen commercials for Ancestry and after watching it I thought ” Oh wow how cool, I might just do that someday”. For me it was always out of sheer curiosity and of course the chance that I may be related to some Egyptian Pharaoh.

    This is def an informative read on the reasons different people may decide to research their family tree. It’s also interesting how you mapped out the advent of this phenomenon. I didn’t even think genealogy was a thing until recently.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      As the Ancestry quote goes, “you don’t have to know what you’re looking for, you just have to look”. And so who knows what you may find. You maybe related to someone famous, or maybe not, it doesn’t really matter as long as you tell their story. And their story is how you came to be

      Reply
  7. Cam Nelson

    Hello!
    Interesting article on reasons for researching the family history and ancestors. For quite a while I have been interested in learning about my family history. Where is the easiest place for me to go and pursue that? I know there are really popular websites that advertise quite a bit but I didn’t know how good they would be. How much effort and time does it really take in order to learn in detail about genealogy?

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      It certainly is an interesting hobby as it can bring up some quite unexcepted things that you never knew about your family. My How Do I Start My Family History In 10 Steps article can help you start your family history research. As yet I have not yet written an article about genealogy sites, although I have written this article Best Genealogy Software Programs – Your Top 5 which covers computer programs that you can use to build your family tree.

      As for time and effort that is pretty much how much that you can put in. Obviously the more time you have then the more you can can find out about your family’s history. These things do take time though. So far I have spent six years and found over 1200 relations. This number though covers many siblings of my ancestors and their descendants. It depends though whether you want to pursue this course of finding cousins, which I did.

      All the best for you on your family history journey

      Reply
  8. Debbie

    What a fascinating article! I agree with you – there are many good reasons to check out genealogy. I can remember several years ago, my dad decided he was going to research his genealogy.

    We found out that my great, great grandfather used to own a large piece of land that was famous to the locals where we lived. I got such a kick out of it that for years I would tell people that my great, great grandfather used to own this! It made for very interesting conversation with a lot of people! Now I have that and can pass it down to my grandchildren. It was fun and well worth it!

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you for enjoying this article. It is I tereting what you may find out about your ancestors. They are also good starting points when talking to people. That’s if the subject of genealogy does crop up though, lol.

      You maybe I interested in my Top 20 Family History Interview Questions article. If you follow this advice you may find out more surprising stories about your ancestors.

      All the best to your family history journey

      Reply
  9. Jim

    Genealogy has sure gotten popular, hasn’t it? I never used to be interested in it, but my curiosity is growing. Several years ago, my sister had the opportunity to travel with a friend to Sweden and Norway. Well, our father is from Norway. So my sister did some research, and she actually found the house that our dad was born in, and talked to the neighbor family that new our family from there. How cool is that? I wonder what the odds of that were? Anyhow, cool site and thanks.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Genealogy has certainly gotten popular what with TV shows like ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, and also adverts for Ancestry. That is pretty cool that your sister found the house where your dad was born in. Did she take a picture of it. That would be great to tell his story, but also to have a picture of the home as well

      Reply
  10. Lamitra Turner

    Like the others I really like this site as well. The analysis of the genealogy is awesome. As stated in this post there are a great multitude of people that are looking for their ancestors story. I am also looking to see where my DNA lies. It just make you want to know more. Like I said this is a site the will thieve

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I am glad that you really like this site. Genealogy is certainly an interesting topic and it can take you in a number of different directions. Who knows what you may find out. I will be exploring DNA testing in future posts so stay tuned

      Reply
  11. Ashley

    Wow, your post has a lot of valuable info. I always liked the idea of genealogy and I even studied something about this topic in Genetics.
    So basing on the things I learned there, I would add another reason to the ones you already have here. Diseases can also be identified through genealogy, especially because some can only appear to very different generations. Like, the great grandfather has X disease, no one else has it in the next 70 years, and then suddenly it appears in the great grandson. So that’s also a very important reason why we should research family history, in my opinion.
    I love your post, by the way 🙂

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you for sharing that reason. I will have to add it to the list. You are very right.

      I am glad that you loved the post. Please check the rest of the site as I am sure there will be other topics that will interest you

      Reply
  12. Marcus

    Really good article.

    Had no idea that researching your family history was this important. I’ve seen all the ads on TV and so on.

    I think that it gets me really excited because I want to know where I come from.

    Personally I don’t really care if I have any famous people in my family history but just the fact of going back in time and knowing how they lived and who they were would be a great thing.

    I have definitely been thinking about doing this and it’s so easy with the Internet now as well. After this article I think I will sign up for it.

    Do you have any recommendations of a good place to start?

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I don’t know how popular the reason is of finding a famous person but it certainly is a reason for some. Mainly because of the genealogy TV shows. It is very interesting and a great talking point if you are related to someone important.

      I have created a list of points that you can follow. Please check out How Do I Start My Family History In 10 Steps article. That will be of great use to you. All the best with your family history research

      Reply
  13. Gary

    Thanks for a great read. My aunts researched my father’s side of the family back for centuries.

    It is a wonderful feeling to know the roots of your family. My ex-wife was Armenian and their family history was lost in the Armenian Genocide. She found some satisfaction in the history of my family.

    Genealogy and researching family history is worth it for many reasons. The biggest reasons for me is the sense of belonging and the satisfaction that after I’m dead, my ancestors will see where I fit in the family scheme.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      You have the same reason as me. I want to preserve my family history for future generations. If I don’t do it now then my descendants will have holes in their knowledge about me and generations before me

      Reply
  14. Sharon May

    I must admit that lately I’ve been thinking about having a blood test done. There is an increasing awareness to know and understand out history, after all knowledge is definitely power.

    What if you need to trace illnesses? Knowing out past, whatever it might be, could solve many problems. Just by my maiden name alone I know I’ve Irish blood; and my skin tone, especially my grandfathers, suggests Spanish or Italian descendants.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      You can very well use genetic information which can be very useful for furthering your research, as well as exploring hereditary illnesses.

      Your ancestry sounds very interesting. Mine is a mixture of Welsh and English from both my parents

      Reply
  15. Farhan

    My mother used to tell me that my family’s ancestors on her side, used to be very rich but fierce traders. They spent most of their time on ships sailing to distant shores to make a living.

    I don’t know how true this is, which makes it quite interesting to investigate. You are right in saying that the internet makes these things much easier for the common man. Maybe I should start getting into genealogy as well!

    Awesome post!

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Some of my ancestors were sailors and to be on the seas was a hard life. So you had to be tough. Depending on where you are you should be able to get records of your ancestors on board these ships. I have done this. From these records you can see where they sailed from and disembarked and the type of ship that they sailed on. Quite fascinating really

      Reply
  16. Gerleene G.

    Great content, and I can see all the thought you put into this post! I myself have been wondering about researching my family history lately, after some surprising questions and tales arose lol I think it is very important to know your family history and pass it down generation to generation. The first family members that came to the U.S was my grandparents, so i have some of those stories and tales at my fingertips while others have to dig a little harder. Pshh, & i barley feel like I really understand those tales lol. Keep up the insightful posts.

    Reply

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