Before we go to far in cataloging our family history, we should consider surnames. Surname is sometimes called family name but most think of last name. As we go back in history we find that last names were not always used. When you are doing research before the thirteen hundreds last names may be associated with a town, or an area of land.
Consider if your name is Jim Smith. You look up everything you can find on the Smith family name. When you are done you have 100 pages of things to read about the Smith family. Did you forget about your mothers family? Back to the computer and look up everything you can find on the Jones family. How about your grand parents? Great grand parents?
As you can see it can grow very fast. Every generation back almost doubles the amount of surnames. I made the mistake of trying to keep track of all the surnames in my family. It became a full time job. At fourteen generations back I quit.
Many family historians start at a point in history and work there way forward. The Smith family in America. As we work back to find our history, search for the real treasure chest, a family history story written about the families history after arriving in America. I recently came across one at freepages. While doing research about your family history, if you find a new surname, take a trip to the site. http://freepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/directory/genealogy.html