Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are You on The Fence? Top 10 Reasons to Jump Into Family History!

Have you been tempted to start researching your family history but just have not gotten motivated to do so? Does genealogy seem overwhelming? Are you now sure where to start?

It's time to get off the fence. Don't wait! Don't leave for tomorrow what you can do today! Start now! Here is my advice as to why:


1. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Life is full of surprises. Don't procrastinate! I did spend twelve years in Mexico where maƱana is a way of life. I choose not to live that way, especially when it comes to my family history. I want to be around to tell the story. Yes, I'm still young, but there are no guarantees.
2. All family historians wish they started earlier. No one has told me that they should have waited to research their family's history until they had more time, maybe until they are retired.
3. People move, throw out stuff, lose stuff. Valuable stuff for family history such as photo albums documents, journals gets tossed out everyday. They get rid of these valuable treasures for many reasons: lack of interests, lack of space and lack of understanding of the worth of these objects. Most importantly, they throw things out because they don't think anyone is interested. If you don't spread the news in your family that you are interested, they won't know. When they know you care, they will be more than happy to hand over old albums, scrap books, death certificates and much more. Just ask my aunts. As the family historian, they all know, I'm obsessed with the past. Two of my aunts been cleaning up for months and handing me their junk. One man's junk is another's treasure. The stuff they were only so happy to part with, I've turned into a book which is selling like hot cakes. Who would have guessed?
4. The more time passes, the more you'll forget. Though some might argue that the older you get, the better you are at remembering your distant past (my mom for example), I tend to disagree. This may be the case for some people, but the large majority of us, simply forget. Haven't you forgotten family stories you heard as a kid. Start documenting what your remember now. Once you start, you may stir more memories.
5. No one is getting any younger. Your older relatives will pass away. I don't mean to be morbid, but it's true and part of the cycle of life. Don't miss out on the opportunity of visit with them, hearing their stories and learning from them about your family history. Don't you wish you remembered some of those stories your grandparents told you before they died? Don't let any more stories slip away. My uncle Larry, passed away last summer from a brain tumor. He was only sixty seven years young. The first book he read after his brain tumor was my book, Stored Treasures. A bit euphoric on the meds, he called to tell me it was the best book he ever read. He told my aunt, that reading the book reminded him of many stories that his grandmother Minnie told him, but were not in the book. He made a note to tell me these stories. Sadly, he went into a comma shortly after, and took those stories with him. I'm still grieving Larry's loss, as he was an inspirational person. The fragility of life, a lesson we try to avoid learning, is one of the biggest driving forces behind my work as a genealogist.
6. Learning about your past, will deepen your understanding of yourself. Trust me, it's an amazing journey and quite therapeutic! Why wait to embark on it?
7. Exploring ones roots has never been easier or cheaper. There are so many resources available today, take advantage. So much information is available at ones finger tips. There are vasts supports and resources for advice out there. Millions of people are collaborating and sharing information. Today's technology will help you organize, sort, document, map and share your work.
8. Leave a legacy to your children. What better gift can you leave your family but their history. If you just decided to become interested in your past, some day your children might as well. They may not appreciate it today, but by starting now, your giving them a huge head start when they do want to know.
9. The only way to learn about your family history, is to start. It may be intimidating but in reality it doesn't take much to get you going. All you need to do is begin with yourself and what you know. Then work backwards. You do not need money or a lot of time.
10. Think of future and past generations. What would you give for a detailed book of family history? Just think how a hundred or two hundred years from now, your descendants will appreciate the time you took to preserve the story for them. At the same time, honor your Ancestors. Recording your history is a type of memorial for your forefathers. Most of our ancestors, lived ordinary lives. Lives which have long been forgotten. Yet, these ordinary lives and the choices they made are the reasons we are here today. Learning about them is a very dignified way to commemorate and honoring your extraordinary relatives.

Now you know why I think you should join me and the millions of other around the globe in researching your ancestry. Do you have good reasons to share about why to start asap? Any regrets?

Stay posted for my next blog where I will give practical tips for getting started.


  1. Hi Smadar,
    What a great blog, totally loved it. And you're right l have just missed the boat with so many now sadly departed relatives.

    In fact l am this week end going to write to my mums remaining sisters and ask for family photos etc like you say before its too late.

    I also think genealogy makes you appreciate the history we learnt in school or see on TV. Just the other day we were watching a fact based drama about the Battle of the Somme, made all the more prominent now that l "know" people who were involved and killed at this horrendous battle.
    Well done you

    1. As to your comment about genealogy and history. How right you are. One of the things that really hit home for me, writing my great-grandmother's memoir, was how personal it made history. I was reading about the flu epidemic of 1918 recently and kept thinking about her description of surviving that same epidemic. Like you, I believe teachers could use genealogy as a history teaching tool and should do so more often. It will help kids relate to the history in a much deeper personal way.

  2. Hi Julie,
    Even avid genealogist like you and I miss the boat sometimes by waiting to contact people. I'm glad this motivated you to redouble your efforts. Just writing this blog made me do so. Last night, I spoke to the eldest of my relatives (he is 92) who has become more interested in my work lately. He was telling me stories that I'd never heard as I was about to go into a school meeting. I made a note to sell to call him asap with a notebook at hand.

  3. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"

    1. Thanks Bill. I look forward to reading your writing as well!

  4. Great post -- I got into genealogy to record and preserve the family history for my children Laura (age 4) and Zechariah (age 2). We don't live close to either side of the family and they're already down to 1 set of grandparents.

    Before I started, my husband didn't know the name of his grandparents, let alone further back on the family tree. On my side, it's only been recorded only for the generations that were in America, no further back than that, and that's only a couple of generations.

    I think your post will definitely inspire others to become their family's historian and the more of us there are, the easier it may be for us to find each other and collaborate!

    1. How correct you are, that the more of us working on our family history, the easier it will get. I should have put that as reason #11! My father didn't know his grandparents names either (they all died in the holocaust). I wrote a post about that:
      Keep up your work and keep sharing!

  5. All good reasons to get started today!

    Welcome to Geneabloggers!


  6. Thanks Lisa. I look forward to reading your blogs as well!


Thanks for sharing your comments!