The MyHeritage blog, which deals with all aspects of genealogy from an international perspective, recently posted about Ron Lambert's 1990s survey of Ontario Genealogy Society members http://blog.myheritage.com/2011/11/genealog-why-family-research/. The posting refers to his analysis of respondents motivation for undertaking genealogical work. He had initially posted four soundings of his survey in Families in the mid 1990s and went on to write four sociological framed articles dealing with the results of that survey and some other work he did with genealogists; all of it listed in our bibliography.
The reasons he gave for undertaking genealogy are still relevant today:
People may develop an interest in family history broadly speaking at one of two periods in their lives. As young people, their curiosity may be piqued by family members who seem especially knowledgeable about the family's past and whose story telling intrigues and excites them. Or, as mature adults, people may find that genealogy offers intellectual perspective and emotional support in dealing with birth, death and life's other challenges.
Along with this came a variety of unrelated events external to anyone's direct experience. In the Canadian case, several respondents referred to the Centennial of Confederation in 1967 as a seminal moment that encouraged various initiatives in community history that led seamlessly to an interest in family.
Our survey asked a lot of the same questions as Lambert's and answers to this one are not unsimilar in orientation. He explores the role played in the lives of many genealogists of older relatives who shared family stories when they were younger. In many cases the actual words used in describing the beginnings of genealogical interest were vitrually identical. We will be posting some of our results in that area soon.....