To most people, the mention of a Family Tree or Family History is a reminder of the stories they heard as children, projects they completed in school or a time to look at that age-old photograph although no one really knows the people in it anymore.
Genealogy is still a new or unfamiliar term to some mention genealogy and the likeliest response is confused looks or even conversations about rocks and soil. Family History or Family Tree however, most have heard of before.
So how do you differentiate Genealogy from Family History? Does it really matter?
The simple answer is, No, it doesn't matter in your everyday life. Although, if you plan to have a conversation about it, you should know that genealogy provides you with the bare-bone facts of your family including names, dates and locations of your ancestors. Family History on the other hand, uses those facts and corroborates them with more records, articles and photographs to tell 'Your Family's Story'. If you learn about your family and preserve the history in either way, you will have done your ancestors proud.
Many people hear stories about their family over time and become curious about the facts. They are romanticized by the ideas and want to prove the accuracy. Some are only curious after the loss of a family member reveals photos stored away that leave many questions, with no one left to answer them. Others still, are hopeful to build a strong heritage foundation for a newborn. These people are motivated just from experiencing the moment of extending their family and when they choose the name for their new baby, thoughts of family past cross their minds. No matter what the reason for the curiosity, an increasing number of people are attempting to search for their families. They’ve decided they want to know more but don’t know where to start or perhaps they are starting over again. Genealogy research takes a lot time, persistence and commitment. You’ve got to be organized, decisive and knowledgeable just to get through the archives. So many people rely on the internet for their research but are later overwhelmed at the sight of the volumes of records available in person. Sometimes, even the online records prove too overwhelming.
No matter what the reason for the curiosity, an increasing number of people are attempting to search for their families. They’ve decided they want to know more but don’t know where to start or perhaps they are starting over again. Genealogy research takes a lot time, persistence and commitment. You’ve got to be organized, decisive and knowledgeable just to get through the archives. So many people rely on the internet for their research but are later overwhelmed at the sight of the volumes of records available in person. Sometimes, even the online records prove too overwhelming.
What about those who have never seen an original record and rely on the translations and transcriptions provided online? What happens when they have a go at that ‘quick trip’ to the archives, and end up becoming lost; leaving with more questions than answers? Or perhaps you have all the skills to do the search yourself but find that you don't have the time or the software. Or perhaps, you simply don't want to do the research yourself but still want to know the history of your family.
This is the time you need to consider hiring someone to take on the work for you. There are those who have developed skill, earned and/or trained for such undertakings and offer their help. Genealogy researchers have had the experience of sorting through conflicting resources and have the necessary knowledge to find out correct dates and information. They have had the day when they found “John Smith” on “Market Street” listed several times and know how to determine who it is they want. Many have access to records you may not know exist or to ask for.
There are many ways to determine who to hire to help you, many things to consider such as qualifications vs. experience; cost vs. speed; location vs. reputation. You might be one of the many people who feel uncertain about hiring a genealogy researcher but once you decide you do want to hire someone, the most important thing to consider is if you are comfortable with the researcher you have chosen. They are going to do the leg work for you and you need to be able to trust their experience and communication skills to help you discover your roots.
It is important to understand that hiring someone to do the research for you, doesn’t guarantee you a relation to royalty, a fairy tale history or even a single search result. Genealogy is a vulnerable project to undertake, which requires patience and understanding that sometimes records just don’t exist. However, if you get a record or storybook you will feel a great sense of pride in your family name. You will learn more about your family than just the stories you were told, you may even uncover a secret. Most of all, you will gain the knowledge of who you really are!
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