The first question in our survey invited people to discus why they had started to do genealogical research in the first place. We are still a long way from dealing with all the responses to this question, which also had a followup asking about why people continue to do so.
But we are able to access a few of the text files from the survey. Responses were quite varied; but there were some clear trends. I have pasted a few of the more typical responses below to give a sense of the range of answers: One really simple and quite common one was a single word “curiosity”; but a number of others were more extended about the source of their inspiration.
“I was planning a trip to Scotland and wanted to learn more about my family history before I went, to make the trip more meaningful."
"Mother was approaching 90 yrs. old and she had a briefcase full of data. When she was in her declining years, she talked a lot about her family. It stirred my interest. I inherited the briefcase when she died at 93 yrs. of age. Our roots are very exciting; I now have a passion (addiction) to researching our families.”
“I started after listening to stories from my grandparents about their life, what it was like when they were growing up, how they met, etc. However, I married, had children and 'life' got in the way of doing much research. I, regretfully, lost the opportunity to get oral histories and stories before my grandparents and parents died. I have always enjoyed puzzles and find genealogy like one big puzzle; always such a great feeling when finding another 'piece' of the family tree.”
So... at least a couple of the responses can be categorized as inheritance of a legacy of involvement, and the contextualization of family stories that had been handed down. And sometimes it is just serendipity associated with a particular occasion or event.