Someone pointed out to me, "The only person who will really be excited about genealogy is the one who is doing it." And that is probably true. But because it brings me a lot of happiness to know my roots, I like to dedicate time to help others have their own experience with their own family. But, as a motivation, let me share some experiences that you may learn about as you look for relatives' information.
- Your parents and grandparents have interesting stories to share. I would have never learned about my great uncle's story if it weren't for asking them about their aunts and uncles. He was an excellent accordion player, and he brought his accordion with him overseas during World War II. He used the accordion as a pillow in dangerous grounds, and at the end of the war, he returned with his accordion in one piece. I learned why my one grandmother always makes Danish cookies and why the other makes Polish sausage. I see where my family comes from and I see how I inherit who I am.
- It is easy to learn more. There are resources online to find out everything that your grandparents do not remember. Census records, birth certificates, marriage licenses, land deeds, and so on all carry information that will allow you to trace back your family lines. These sources will provide names of your ancestors and often where they lived. But they may also tell you interesting tidbits about details of their lives, like their occupation and immigration year. Some draft registrations even will tell you the weight, height, hair, and eye color of your ancestors. As technology gets better, more records from the past are online to help find these people. I learned how I connect back to Wales, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, England, Africa, and perhaps Native America through these types of records. I also learned that my third great grandfather was a barber who also served as a Baptist preacher (that came from a newspaper from the early 1900s--even those records are becoming searchable!).
- You might actually meet your long-distant cousin. I have had several experiences with this. While I am doing family history, I find a person who has information on one of my ancestors. The website provides an email. I send a message, and I learn that we are related by that ancestor! One of them happened to live only two hours away, so I went to Olive Garden with her and her husband. Another of them told me about some deep genealogy work he was doing and then referred me to a close cousin, with whom I talked and shared information. He also had plenty of stories that were not passed down my line of our shared relatives.
I promise you will love it. If you need help, I can give some basic tips. Here is a free site for starters:
There is also this website, though it costs money. It does have nifty things like DNA tests that can show you where you are from.