Genealogy is often considered to be one of the top three hobbies in the world, along with coin collecting and stamp collecting. Coins and stamps are issued by governments, usually countries. Genealogy is all about people along with the records kept by numerous entities, including governments.
Old saying: You choose your friends and your spouse, but your neighbors and your family tree are chosen for you.
Think of your family history as a jigsaw puzzle. It has thousands and thousands of pieces. You know it looks like a tree but you do not get to see exactly what the entire puzzle looks like.
Some benefits of genealogy
Vacation trips sometimes become expeditions and safaris to “exotic places” such as cemeteries, court houses, libraries, archives, town halls, and old churches
Gives you an easy topic to start a conversation with any of your relatives
Is appreciated by your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, etc. for assisting their school assignment to do their family tree
Expands on many of the subjects you learned in school, some of which you may not have previously enjoyed, such as:
problem and mystery solving
genetics and microbiology
The good news about genealogy
There is tons of information and research help aids out there
There are thousands of wonderful people out there who will gladly help you
You can put as little or as much effort into it as you wish
You can drop it and pick it back up at any time
You'll meet cousins (second, third, fourth, tenth) you never knew you had
You'll probably find that you have a huge extended family
You will become known within your extended family for something that is a positive thing
Genealogy works best when you are willing to share your information with others. You will probably find that you generally get back more than you give.
The bad news about genealogy
The information is not all in one place --- YET! It is scattered in court houses, cemeteries, town halls, museums, archives, libraries, churches, private homes, computer hard drives, and in the brains of your relatives
There is a lot of bad/incorrect/faulty genealogy out there, so always question and verify everything
There is no known cure for the terminal disease called “the genealogy bug”. Symptoms include:
planning vacation trips that include visits to cemeteries, libraries, court houses, town halls, and archives – and worst of all, you actually look forward to taking the trip
talking to your relatives more often, some of whom you’ve never spoken to before
finding yourself in libraries more often
spending a lot of time at genealogical web sites
getting excited each time you discover a new ancestor to put onto your family tree
You will never finish -- there is always more that can be found and/or learned. Your task is to gather, and organize, what you can so you can pass it on to future generations. Then let them deal with those hardest-to-find ancestors.