Genealogy and Family History are not the Same

genealogy-and-family-history-are-not-the-same-find-more-genealogy-blogs-at-familytree-comIt isn’t unheard of for people combine family history and genealogy together. There are conferences and webinars that are described as being for “genealogists and family historians”. The two can be combined, but genealogy and family history are not the same.

The best way to understand the differences between genealogy and family history is to look at them as two pieces that make up one whole field of study. You need to do genealogy research to find the facts about your ancestors’ lives. Family history provides the “color” that makes it easier to relate to your ancestors.

Genealogy involves:

* Searching online (or in physical archives) for copies of the vital records of your ancestors. This can include copies of marriage licenses, birth certificates, death certificates, and military records.

* Visiting cemeteries to take photos of your ancestor’s headstones

* Putting together a family tree that shows how all of your relatives and ancestors are related

* Joining a local genealogy society

* Volunteering to help FamilySearch index records

* Taking a direct-to-consumer DNA test to find out what countries your ancestors came from

* A genealogy website informing you that your DNA results show that you are related to some of the other people who are also subscribed to that genealogy website

* Putting together a medical family tree that will help you to understand what “runs in the family” and what health risks younger generations need to be aware of

* Discovering how much of your DNA comes from Neanderthals and/or Denisovans

* Looking for census records that can tell you more about the life of an ancestor (and that person’s close relatives)

* Using the Social Security Death Index to find out more information about an ancestor

Family History involves:

* Attending (or arranging) a family reunion

* Recording your relatives as they repeat the stories that have been passed down from one generation of your family to another

* Taking a trip to visit the place where your ancestors were born

* Going though a box of old family photos and identifying the people who are in each one

* Putting together a family history blog that tells the stories behind significant family photos

* Displaying important family heirlooms in ways that honor the ancestor the heirloom came from

* Learning the songs that your ancestors used to sing before they immigrated to America

* Attending a festival that highlights the dances, songs, and food of a culture or country that your ancestors came from

* Learning the language that your ancestors spoke when they were children

* Reading old letters and journals written by your ancestors

Image by Beth Cortez-Neavel on Flickr

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