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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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