We recently asked this question to our @MyHeritage Twitter followers to see if there was some commonality to how people got started researching their family.
Of the many replies we received we started to see some common threads in the stories and of all of them, there were 2 themes that were by far the most popular, which you'll see below:
1. I HAD TO DO IT FOR A CLASS
Many people had no desire to look into their family but as a result of a class they took or an assignment, they were forced to get started and made a discovery that got them hooked!
As an example, here was a reply from @ancestralacres
2. IT WAS THE RESULT OF AN ELDERLY RELATIVE
Another common response was that an elderly relative inspired the start. Whether it was as a result of poor health and a fear that if that person passed away critical family history information would go with them, or whether it was about an elderly relative wanting to actively pass on family information - the genesis of research for many people resides in the actions of someone from an earlier generation.
The following reply from @ker08 seemed to fall somewhere in the middle of these two:
But there were also some other interesting stories.
We went to Laura's site and there we found a great story about how she and her family got started:
My great-grand uncle's safe deposit box was among those sealed during the Great Depression. One otherwise ordinary Sunday, the Chicago Tribune published a long list of names; those to whom the Department of Financial Institutions would return the personal possessions they'd held for nearly five decades. Raymond Tolf appeared on the list.
But they were too late. Unkie (Karl Johan Raymond TOLF) had died nearly a decade earlier at the age of 82. To establish our claim to his safe deposit box, my family had to prove our connections using birth, marriage, and death certificates.
Although my great-grand uncle's safe deposit box didn't contain any photos or letters or anything of monetary value, the process inspired a hobby that maintains my interest even after 30 years.
So that's their stories - but what about yours? Do you remember the thing that sparked your interest in family history research?
If so, we'd love to hear about it in the comments.
Oh, and seeing as this all started through our Twitter account, now might be a good time to list all of the MyHeritage twitter accounts so you can see if there are any you might be interested in following
- @myheritage - the main English MyHeritage Twitter account
- @myheritageAU - for Australian and New Zealand news
- @myheritageUK - for UK news
- @myheritageDE - for German news
- @myheritagePT - for Portugese news
- @myheritageES - for Spanish news
- @myheritageNL - for Dutch news
- @myheritageFR - for French news
- @myheritageTR - for Turkish news
- @myheritagePL - for Polish news
- @myHGenealogy - for general Genealogy and MyHeritage features