The word “genealogy” comes from the Greek “genea” which means family or race, or from “genos” which stands for race. It is the study of lineage, tracing the roots of a family as far as possible into history.
At earlier times your lineage decided about your place in life, your possibilities and your future. This is still the case in many parts of the world. Although lineage may be important in democratic societies it doesn’t assure you of your earnings or social position anymore. Your forefathers did pass on to you your genetic outline and a little piece of history that decide for a big part who you are.
Why should anyone want to attempt genealogical research? In today’s world it is hard to keep in touch with your personal roots. Genealogical research may give you a sound sense of who you are, may strengthen your self confidence and even re-connect you with far away family members. It can bring your family of today together with a purpose you can all share. Knowing your family’s history and forefathers is a way to pay respect to them and their influence on your life.
If you want to know more about your ancestry you will have to realize that genealogical research can be hard, takes up a lot of time and energy and can bring frustration as well. But the results may be well worth it.
A good start is to search the public records in places where members of your family have lived. Local governments have records of births, marriages, and deaths as well as sales and purchases of land. Local newspapers keep archives where you can look for your family members’ names.
Another thing you should do at an early stage is interviewing the oldest members of the family that are still alive. Get names, names, names. Of fathers, mothers, uncles etc. Listen to what they have to tell about your family from their own memory and from what they have gotten from their oldest family members. Don’t wait with visiting them, since you don’t know how long they have still to live. Their information might be priceless.
Doing genealogical research turns you into an investigator. You will find clues you don’t recognize as such until you run into a fact that puts the pieces together. You will find information, weigh it and trace more information. You talk to friends of friends of friends that might be able to help you.
You will get to know new people, both virtual through the many sites on the Internet dedicated to genealogical research, and in real life like long forgotten relatives and people who have a bit of information for you. Tracking down the history of your family might open a whole new world to you.