Family genealogy research has grown exponentially over the past decade, making it an area worthy of scholarly inquiry (Smith, 2010). Genealogy is now one of the world's most popular hobbies, with hundreds of millions of people worldwide actively engaged in some form of family research (Veale, 2004). In the United States, there has recently been a significant increase in the interest of searching out one's genealogical roots (Triseliotis, 1998). For most young people, the years from late teens to early twenties represent a period of profound change (Arnett, 2000). Many young adults search for and solidify their identity during the years they attend college (Muuss, 1996). Few research studies have examined the experience of searching one's genealogy and the impact it might have on college student development. This study focused on the experiences of college students who were searching their own personal ancestry in an undergraduate class on family history/genealogy. Participants reported that researching their family history (a) ignited or intensified a strong interest in genealogical research, (b) developed connections, closeness, and bonds to ancestors which motivated them in their lives, (c) discovered shared physical and personality characteristics, (d) impacted their current relationships with living relatives, (e) stimulated spiritual experiences, and (f) influenced their identity development.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Reiser, Matthew L., "Exploring Genealogical Roots and Family History and Their Influence on College Student Development: A Qualitative Study" (2012). All Theses and Dissertations. 3356.
genealogy, family history, identity development, college students