What's in a Name?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in researching my family tree. Being a history buff, it's not surprising that I would be curious about my grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on.
So the first place I started building my family tree was with my parents. But neither could tell me about their family history past their siblings and grandparents. Initially, that stuck as being odd. However, after thinking about it, it wasn't that strange after all. Consider your family history. I'm sure you remember your grandparents from both sides. But what about your great-grandparents? or great-great-grandparents? Get's tough. Unless you're one of those people who's the III whatever in your family, you may have trouble going back more than two generations.
It also depends on what part of the world your ancestors originated. If you come from a nation like Great Britain, then chances are you'll have more luck in framing your family tree. You'll be more successful in locating a coat of arms or family crest. Records would enable you to trace your lineage back, perhaps hundreds of years.
But what if you're ancestors came from a part of the world where the record-keeping wasn't as good? Asia or Africa, for example. People didn't always keep records of births and deaths. Europeans, being more of a feudal society, kept better track of such things, so to make sure the lands and wealth would pass down from father to son, and so on.
There was also the constant state of war that has existed over the history of humanity. Actions such as these tend to destroy things, and paper records are among those things. So what recourse do we researchers have?
There are several resources available to us. Many online websites such as Ancestry.com
can provide a great start to discovering our lineage and history. Both provide genetic profiles based on your DNA. But Ancestry.com also provides record searches, which helps locate those distant relatives you never knew existed.