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Beyond genealogy into family history

Genealogical research is a rewarding field of study and for an increasing number of people it is a lifelong pursuit that provides them with much enjoyment and pleasure. As a matter of fact, some genealogical researchers attack this occupation with a passion that borders on the obsessive! The world is a far better place because of these hardy individuals’ efforts however,  many grateful families have discovered a long lost ancestor or established comprehensive family trees because of them.

As you can imagine, genealogical research is a pursuit that requires a considerable amount of study and often requires the perusal of many dozens or perhaps even thousands of documents. Many of these documents date back to several years ago and as such may be hard to decipher because of extensive physical damage or the illegibility of old-fashioned handwriting.

Because of these and many other difficulties inherent in the printed document, many genealogical researchers are sadly relegated to the task of merely gathering the names of their subject’s ancestors and the pertinent dates associated with them. What should be a fascinating and involving research endeavour then becomes just a little more than a cataloguing pursuit. This is an unfortunate occurrence as with only a little more effort and judicious planning, genealogical researchers can uncover a vast wealth of information that will be of tremendous value to the family who is commissioning the research and at the same time make an otherwise tedious task a much more rewarding experience for himself. Furthermore the skills and knowledge gained in embarking on such a research effort will prove useful to any other future genealogical pursuits he may tackle later on.

So how does the average genealogical researcher progress beyond genealogy into the far more gratifying area of family history study? Well you can start by making a concentrated effort to learn more facts and details about your subject’s ancestors and the lives they have led as well as the time period in which they lived in. Aside from merely gathering names, places of residence and dates of births and deaths, you should strive to collect as much information as possible about your subjects’ little known relatives, his occupation, his accomplishments and any official recognition that he may have received in his lifetime. This is only a cursory list of the alternative avenues you may explore but they will already go a long way in painting a more complete picture of your subject.

While the work of collecting names and dates of long gone ancestors may be accomplished by a day’s visit to the local registry, establishing a family history won’t be so easy. Obviously, research into the family history of your subject has the potential to be a far more time intensive task than merely gathering the relevant names and dates. But as in all pursuits, great rewards do not come easy and you should take comfort in the fact that all your hard work will pay off in providing a richer and more satisfying insight into the lives and times of your subjects past.

Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 20/06/2008

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