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Why you should consider tracing your family tree

In the last few years, genealogy (i.e. the study of personal ancestry) has seen the resurgence in its popularity thanks to the addition of hundreds and thousands of archived census documents made available by the government to the public. Sites like White Pages can help you search through archived versions of the edited electoral register, which may contain valuable titbits of information on the whereabouts of your distant, living relatives, who also may be interested in your family's ancestry.

This article will outline reasons why you should consider taking the plunge and embarking on your own genealogy project today.

Family Tree

Photo By: Herry Lawford

Out of Appreciation for the Past, Present and Future

Genealogy is of interest to all nations and cultures in the world because practically everyone, no matter what religion, will have some desire to know a little bit more about where they came from. In the 21st century world, it's easy to forget that as recently as 100 years ago, life for the everyday person in Britain had its challenges in ways we simply wouldn't be able to relate to today.

For example, this year marks the centenary of the beginning of World War I, an incredibly brutal and dark chapter in our country's history. Finding out more about the men in your family who were sent to the trenches is a very humbling experience and one that should be shared with future generations of your family. With the knowledge that you are the end product of your ancestors, you will be able to see just how you fit in to the rich tapestry that is your family history and make sense of quirks, idiosyncrasies and details that make you who you are today.

To Validate Family Stories

Speaking to elderly relatives about your family's past should be the amateur genealogist's first port of call when conducting a family tree study, as their stories may provide you with clues as to where you should direct your investigations next. However, storytellers also have a tendency to embellish things when spinning a good yarn, so it is always wise to ratify the details against official documentation (for example, old census records) to make sure that you build an accurate picture.

To Trace Inheritance and Ownership

At times of bereavement, the last thing anyone in a family wants to do is argue about inheritance. Discovering your family's lineage therefore, in cases where heirs need to be tracked down in order to pass on things like land or property, having all of the correct details can save you a lot of arguments and the possible dissolution of your family.

To Become a Part of Something Bigger

Heritage societies are made up of groups of people who all have a common theme in their lineage. For example, the descendants of the first American settlers from Britain who sailed over on the Mayflower have their own heritage society and there are many other heritage associations out there too. By researching your family tree, you can discover if you are part of a wider community of amateur historians who can also help you piece together your history through the work they've already carried out. Not to mentions the fact that being part of a heritage society also fosters a huge sense of pride amongst its members.

When investigating your family's past you might also come across some information or artefacts that may benefit your local community with its inclusion in your hometown's local history museum, for example. If you discover that someone in your family was very influential, why wouldn't you want to share that with the wider community?

To Understand Who you are

Thousands of Brits every day begin tracing their family history in order to find the details of their estranged biological family members. Starting your genealogy search can soon get you in touch with your living relatives and give you something to talk to them about, should you ever meet. Use our interactive people finder to get you started on your search for your long-lost relatives.

Alternatively, you may also need to do a family history search in order to clarify your family's medical history, if you are at risk of developing (or passing on) some sort of genetic illness. Having these important pieces of information can be life-affirming, but even if you are healthy and you are aware of all your living relatives, genealogical research can also help you preserve the legacy of your loved ones to pass on to your children.