Everyone has a different reason for researching their family tree. It may just be curiosity about where your family is from or about the medical history of your family. It may be that an assignment comes home from school and you need to answer some family questions. It might be that you want to verify a family story or join a group like the DAR or the Mayflower Society. Whatever your reason, get ready for a bumpy ride!!
It may be that one of your children came home from school with the assignment to produce a family tree. If this is not something that you have ever really thought about it can seem quite overwhelming especially if you are not particularly close to your family.
The first thing to do is to call the family genealogist, almost every family has one. In my family that is me and I get these types of call regularly from all sides of the family.
It may be a question posed by your doctor about whether there is a history of the condition in your family that starts your search. A medical genealogy is a little different than a regular genealogy. You will be more interested in getting the death information than anything else. The kind of things you will want to know is what your ancestors died from and how old they were when they died.
Once you get back 100 years or more you will need to learn some new medical terms because often conditions that we know now by one name were called something else in the past.
Applying for a foreign passport
There are foreign countries that allow you to have citizenship and apply for their passport, Irish and Italian are two that are quite common. You must prove that you are of their nationality within a certain number of generations. You will have to provide a genealogy included official documents to prove that you are eligible.
Becoming a member of a society
If one of your ancestors fought in the American Revolution, you can become a member of the DAR. This is just one of many societies that are prestigious enough that people are willing to do a lot of genealogical research to join. Another one that is heard quite often is the Descendants of the Mayflower or the Mayflower Society.
To be able to trace your ancestry back to the Mayflower is quite an accomplishment and many famous Americans fit into this category. Don't worry if your roots are not that deep, there are many societies for immigrants from a variety of countries and cultures.
The main reason that most people research their family tree is to find out where their roots are. Some families have a very deep history that is spoken about and in other families it is a deep dark secret.
Starting to research your family tree is an exciting hobby that can take years of hard work and is frankly never finished. The Internet has made research much easier than in the past and chances are if you start looking at genealogy websites you may just meet a family member you never knew you had who is searching the same family as you are.
Be forewarned, searching for your family tree can be addictive and it has been known to cause frustration, elation and amazement. You can never be completely sure what you will find, but whatever you find it will be your history and something that will help you to understand where you came from.