Genealogy (from Greek: γενεαλογία genealogia "the making of a pedigree") is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives. Although generally used interchangeably, the traditional definition of "genealogy" begins with a person who is usually deceased and traces his or her descendants forward in time, whereas, "family history" begins with a person who is usually living and traces his or her ancestors. Both the National Genealogical Society in the United States and the Society of Genealogists in the United Kingdom state that the word "genealogy" often refers to the scholarly discipline of researching lineages and connecting generations, whereas "family history" often refers to biographical studies of ones family, including family narratives and traditions.
The pursuit of family history and origins tends to be shaped by several motives, including the desire to carve out a place for one's family in the larger historical picture, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling. Genealogy research is also performed for scholarly or forensic purposes.