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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree Christmas 2017 > Why do we do it?

Why do we do it?

Dr Penny Walters explores the appeal of researching our family history, looking back to the past, and finding out more about who we each are… Just why do people search for ancestors?


Interestingly the symbol for ‘psychology’ resembles a simplified tree. Penny explores the enduring psychological appeal of ancestor-hunting

As my children say, ‘Why are you looking for dead people?’. Why do we ‘do’ genealogy and family history?

I spend hours on my tree, and get so excited when I ‘find’ a ‘new’ person (even though they aren’t new, they were always there). One of my favourite inspirational quotes is ‘Don’t look back, you’re not going that way!’ – so, why this fascination with our ancestors, and specifically, our place within a tree? The symbol for ‘psychology’, the study of behaviour and the mind, even resembles a tree (but a rather stark one) and maybe we want to put some branches on that tree. Maybe our positioning within our family history can help us answer the perennial question of ‘Who am I?’.

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About Family Tree

Welcome to the Christmas issue of Family Tree – we’ve got festive family history treats galore in store for you. Dive into our delicious feast of digitised documents – rare historic collections for you to enjoy browsing and researching on your device. Enjoy some genealogy jollies: a family history crossword, quiz and memories of Christmas traditions from centuries past. And last but not least, this issue sees the launch of the Family Tree Academy – this is your opportunity to hone your family history skills. In part 1, this issue, we’ve got documents for you to decipher, old handwriting for you to transcribe and a research case study for you to pit your wits against. Join in with our learning experience today to become a better family historian!