What is Genealogy?
Genealogy is the study and tracing of family pedigrees.
This involves the collection of the names of relatives,
both living and deceased, and establishing the relationships among
them based on primary, secondary and/or circumstantial evidence
or documentation, thus building up a cohesive family tree.
However, simply building up a list of names and dates is likely
to end up being dull - you should try and find out as much information
about your ancestors as possible, and using this you can then put
together their stories and gain an understanding of how they lived
their life, which is what most family historians aim for.
Example of a Family Tree
This is part of the Smith family tree. There are
some interesting things to note:
> Why is Maria Smith 20 years Joseph's
> Alan Smith died when he was only 16 - why?
> Jane Smith's maiden name was Lee, what was the
maiden name of her daughter-in-law, Diane?
These are just some of the questions you can find the answers
to in your research.
Genealogy as a Hobby & a Profession
Finding out about your ancestors and their lives can give you a
sense of excitement, and a need to know more - thus, Genealogy as
a hobby can become pleasantly addictive for the researcher.
The study of family history is also undertaken professionally.
This is usually to provide a commercial service to those who don't
have the time to research their origins, but want to find out where
they came from, or for those who need some help with their research.
Studying a family history can also be done for serious legal and
financial reasons, but this is rare.
The Aim of Genealogy & Family History Research
The aim of this research is usually to produce a well-documented
history of your ancestors, including old certificates, old photographs,
and descriptive stories about them. Many family historians find
that their ancestors have done something heroic or have had a secret
love, that they took part in a historical events, or something as
equally fascinating. It is these interesting stories that family
historians say makes their research worthwhile.
It is usually best to trace the male line, and (as you can see
in the example to the right), this is because of the status of women.
For example, a burial record from the 1700s could say something
along the lines of "John Smith's wife was buried". As
you probably know, women were thought of as being less important
Beginning your Research
So how should you begin your search into your family history? You
could start by looking at the 'Before
you Begin' page of this site, as it will tell you how to begin
your research, or you can read about family historians and what
hapenned to their ancestors by looking at Case