What Is Genealogy
Why Study Genealogy?
How Far Can You Go?
3rd Party Stories
Cite Your Sources
What Is Genealogy?
Together, genealogy and family history involve looking for and finding the threads of our ancestors' lives that make up the tapestry of history.
Is your family related to Abraham Lincoln? Are you descended from a signer of the Declaration of Independence? Are you related to Spanish nobility? Did great-grandmother really jump ship and immigrate illegally, or are there records that can tell you how she came to America and where she came from? Are you really a mixture of Irish, Scott, and German ancestry? These are the types of questions that you can discover in this fascinating hobby. Unsurprisingly, given its personal nature, family history turns out to be even more interesting and entertaining than a bestseller fiction or reality-based television shows.
A crucial rule of genealogy is to keep an open mind. Historians and genealogists learn that you can not judge the past too quickly, and certainly not by the standards of the present. You have to try to understand the conditions under which your ancestors loved and lived. Sometimes your ancestors' actions may seem strange, but there may be cultural, economic or social factors which make their actions logical in the context of their times.
When doing your research, it is always wise to seek proof from more than one source, and not just from the stories passed down all too readily in your family. With passing time and frequent repetition, these stories may have, at best, re-interpreted the past, and in some cases, picked up inaccuracies along the way. A genealogist seeks the truth via proof.
The hobby of genealogy attracts many people who also enjoy mysteries, word games, and puzzles. Putting together your family tree is a lot like assembling the pieces of a real-life jigsaw puzzle. Fortunately, you don't need to be a first-rate detective like Sherlock Holmes to be a successful genealogist. Patience, persistence, thoroughness, and interest all count for a great deal more than the occasional stroke of genius.
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