Why Research Genealogy?

general-tree-diagramWell, that’s a good question. Why put in the hours (and hours) of research in order to do nothing but compile a complicated list of names and dates? Why lose your desk under a mountain of books, papers, records and old photographs?

This is the kind of question that if you’re asking it, you likely aren’t really that interested in genealogy. This isn’t something a person does for a reason. At least, not a tangible reason.

To me, genealogy is much like collecting, which can become a passion without a point. There is no reason to collect stamps, toy airplanes, or rustic weather vanes. But yet, once a collection is started, it can easily border on obsession.

I collect people and information, just like I antique typewriters. I’m always excited by the next lead, the next find and the next connection. Most collectors will tell you, that the real thrill is in the hunt.

Unlike typical collecting, there is a real personal connection involved in genealogy. Having researched my tree to more than forty generations, I have a very deep sense of history and family. I feel like I am actually part of recorded history, because I can trace my existence to many notable people. Of course, you don’t need historical figures in your family tree in order to feel connected to the past.

When I read through my records, I always find it thrilling to see relatives from the 1600s and to imagine what their lives were like.

I suppose there are also more concrete reasons for delving into your family past. There are medical or health issues that can be learned by looking at your genetic background. Possibly even legal issues, with regards to heirs and estates. I guess the bottom line is that there is no reason. If you need a reason to start on this hobby, it just might not be for you.