Know Your Family Tree – How Genealogy Can Benefit You
Genealogy has surged in popularity over the past few years. Ancestry websites are now the second most visited category of websites on the internet, and Time Magazine reports it’s the “second most popular hobby in the U.S., after gardening.” Among everyone jumping on board this genealogy trend, people from the Boomer generation seem to be particularly intrigued.
So why the sudden uptick in older adults digging around for a more in-depth family backstory? A recent poll suggests it’s because older generations weren’t as inclined to share their personal story with kids and relatives. The survey conducted by the Harris Poll, and commissioned by A Place for Mom, found that 28% of adults do not feel they know, or knew as a much about their mothers as they would have liked.
If you think you already know the ins and outs of your family lineage, or that digging into your ancestral roots won’t be of much use, you may want to think again.
Here’s why you should consider genealogy as your new hobby.
Why Research Your Genealogy?
There are plenty of practical reasons why people get involved with genealogy, but many fact-finding adventures begin with a specific trigger. Maybe your grandchildren, or even your children, have asked questions about your life and the lives of your parents. Sharing family history with the younger generation promotes self-identity and self-awareness.
Studying your family tree could also have substantial health benefits. Documented ancestry allows you to trace serious medical conditions through your family to determine your risk factor, fill gaps in your family medical history left open by distant relatives, or even locate the birth parents of an adopted child – and with the emergence of genealogical DNA test kits, it’s now easier than ever.
Digging into your genealogical roots can even bring surprises – like locating a new branch of the family tree, meeting members of the extended family, or uncovering a new status that opens up opportunities to apply for bursaries, scholarships or visas.
Where to Start
The internet is the easiest place to begin your genealogy journey. Subscription services for ancestry research include Ancestry, Find My Past and My Heritage. Review every site before deciding on a subscription.
Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017, AncestryDNA sold over 1.5 million DNA testing kits designed to provide insights into your ethnicity and familial connections. The testing kit 23andMe was also another top seller this past holiday season.
If you’re looking to explore genealogy on a budget, there are plenty of free services available online. The U.S. National Archives and U.S. Gen Web Project are two great places to get started. Be sure to also check out the ten best free genealogy sites, and these free resources to help you build your own family tree.