Knowing your family’s history can be a great way to connect with past generations and create an identity. It can also provide valuable information, such as your inherited disease risk. Researchers have found that doing genealogy research boosts self-esteem and reduces anxiety. Here are surprising benefits of researching your family history:
You’ll Learn About Your Heritage
Whether you’re a genealogy novice or an expert, searching for your ancestors will teach you about where your family came from and how they lived. You’ll find out more about their culture, religion and language. Knowing your heritage makes you feel more connected to the world and gives you pride in who you are. Learning about your ancestors’ lives is inspiring, especially if they dealt with hardships. Their ability to survive difficult circumstances is a testament to their resilience. It can also remind you that, as much as life isn’t fair, it is possible to overcome many obstacles if you work hard enough.
As you collect information about your ancestors, document each detail as fully as possible. It will help when you’re putting together your family tree or writing a book about your research. For example, keeping a separate folder on your computer or in a file cabinet for each person you’re researching is helpful. It will allow you to locate the information you need again later on quickly.
Documenting your family history is also a great way to preserve your past generations’ traditions, memories and culture. It is a gift that will last for generations to come. It may inspire future generations to continue and pass these traditions down for years. But how many years is a generation? A family generation typically lasts 20 to 30 years since it is the average age at which individuals start having children from one generation.
You’ll Learn About Your Ancestors’ Lives
When you learn about your ancestors’ lives, it helps you put things into perspective. The fact that your ancestors struggled with poverty, war and illness can remind you that not everything in life works out and can even inspire you to overcome your challenges. While you can learn a lot about an ancestor from their birth or death certificate, learning more about the times they lived allows you to step into their shoes. It can be done through visiting family homes, neighborhoods, schools and churches or even by traveling to their homelands to see the places where they grew up.
You can also use local history books to learn more about the communities where your ancestors lived and why people in those areas behaved as they did. For example, if your ancestors were part of a group that moved from one place to another in search of land or work, you can learn more about why they made these choices by reading local history books.
The amount of information you’ll come across as you research your family tree can grow quickly, so it’s important to have a system to keep track of everything. For example, you can create a three-ring binder with dividers for pedigree charts, family group sheets and research logs. There are also software programs and websites that can help you store and organize your research data.
You’ll Learn About Your Culture
In addition to the more direct details of ancestors’ lives, researchers often seek out information about the culture into which their family was born. It is especially true of those interested in genealogy, a more holistic study that combines the basic facts of ancestry with cultural context and family stories. Family cultures powerfully affect the people who grow up within them. Even those who later reject all or part of their family’s ways often find certain attitudes and responses ingrained in them, whether or not they realize it. Knowing their culture can help a person to understand their own better.
The hard truth is that most of your ancestors’ lives were difficult and sometimes brutal. Learning about their struggles and how they overcame them can give you a sense of strength and resilience that you might not have had otherwise. Many libraries and archives have compiled family histories and genealogies, while online searches offer a variety of resources. For example, searching Google with a focused search term can help you to discover digitized newspaper articles from around the world. It is particularly useful for those researching ancestors who moved around a lot. It could be due to military service, job opportunities or other reasons.
You’ll Learn About Your Health
People with a higher-than-normal likelihood of developing common illnesses, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, can be identified by their family history. This information can encourage them to take more proactive steps to reduce the risk, such as making lifestyle changes or visiting healthcare professionals for regular screenings. It can also shed light on the possibility of getting rarer diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, which are brought on by variations in a single gene. While genes determine a person’s health, many other factors influence it, such as what they eat, their level of physical activity, their job, and how often they visit the doctor. Researching your family’s history will help you discover how your ancestors dealt with certain illnesses and life events, which may give you ideas about avoiding or treating the same problems they did.
Researching your family history is a rewarding and fun way to learn about your heritage. However, it’s a task that is best tackled with support from someone with previous experience writing a family history. Collaborating with a group of relatives who are interested in the project can help share the workload and increase efficiency. Teaming up with relatives who have already written their family history can also offer insights into the different stages of the process and techniques to organize and present your discoveries.