In For Richer, For Poorer, Our Heroine Beatrice Nottham does genealogy. She is rather fond of her research. She's got a few unanswered questions she wants to solve before she moves off-world.
Genealogy. or Family History is one of the biggest hobbies in the world. It's thrilling to learn where you came from, and to discover fascinating family stories. My family enjoys genealogy and we've done lots of research.
One of the best sources of info is from living family members. They'll have the stories, if not always the stats. It's best someone write these down, as family members don't live forever and they will take their stories with them.
The second best source is Original Research--Birth, Marriage and Death certificates, church records, state records, official government census, etc. Beatrice flies to England to get her hands on some of this research, and finds some of it in a Family Bible. Families often kept track of their own records in Family Bibles, which had a section in the back for recording such info.
19th and 20th Century Europe did a pretty good job of keeping records of people. (For example, in the UK, their Census records start about 1831.) Because of this, most people can trace back at least four generations, or even six or eight.
However, the further back you go, the trickier things get. The older the records, the more chances are of those records getting lost. Church and courthouse fires are notorious for having destroyed precious genealogy records. Also, the lower-class weren't as meticulous as the nobility when it came to record-keeping.
Beatrice was able to trace her genealogy back over a thousand years1 because she was able to tap in early on to the nobility. The nobility kept records because they thought they mattered. Who married whom was very important. Who was your father? Your grandfather? They kept good track of this.
Do you know if you are descended from nobility? Worth a look.
The Deveraux line was noble. Peter Baring was the Earl of Revelstoke-on-Membland and a direct Deveraux descendant. He was the keeper of much of the records of family history, much to Beatrice's benefit.
Her Grace encourages y'all to give genealogy a go. FamilySearch.org is a free place to start. Ancestry.com costs, but is an excellent resource you might be able to access free through your local public library.
1Yes, this is possible; my family has done this. Noble blood flows through my veins; I am the daughter of kings.