Learning about one's family history can be important for a number reasons. Some people feel a need to connect with and understand their heritage, while others want to establish their family's story for present and future generations to reference. Learning about family history can prove to be a daunting task as it can take many hours of research and recording of information, but no matter your motivation, it will be a worthwhile accomplishment in the end. Before starting your research, it is important to create a means of organizing the information you come across. There are pre-printed forms, such as pedigree charts, that are designed for organizing genealogical information, but you can just as easily create your own record keeping system.
When beginning the actual research, start with the eldest members of your family who can provide you with basic information on previous generations. Perhaps they also have heirlooms such as family bibles, wedding guest book registries, or obituary clippings that may serve as a resource for locating information on extended family. The depth of your research is up to you and family members are often the best place to start. By talking with family members, you may discover someone in your family has already done some of their own research that you can build upon.
In addition to family members, or even if you have no family members to consult, the Internet is an excellent resource for family history research. You can locate certain public records such as births, deaths, marriages, and previous census years. Another excellent resource is the Family History Library, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. There are thousands of branches, called Family History Centers, operating internationally by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. These centers are open to the public and have computers available for public use.
Preserving your family history once it is established is equally as important as sharing it. There are many ways to beautifully record this information in books for gifts, display, or storing. Remember to record permanent information on acid-free paper, use protective sleeves, and make the information accessible for future generations to add to.