In 1977 a mini-series, Roots, aired on TV. Roots was based on a book by Alex Haley: Roots, the Saga of an American Family which chronicled Haley’s search for his ancestors who had been brought to America as slaves from Africa, endured slavery in America’s South and then struggled to build their lives over the next century. The story captured the imagination of viewers and ignited a desire among people of all ethnicities to research their own family roots.
According to Haley, knowing who our ancestors are is important to find out who we are. Genealogy, which until Roots aired had been a largely unexplored discipline, was transformed into a popular hobby with genealogical societies, courses, self-help groups and more.
Today the abundance of available records, combined with professional researchers, social media groups, DNA testing and other advances has made it as easy as the Everygame casino login to track down information about one’s heritage and locate family members.
If you are interested in pursuing genealogical research, it doesn’t take much to get started.
Start by building a family tree with the information that you have. You can use paper and pen or find a genealogy software package that you like.
Start by gathering the information and records that you already have. These might include information from family Bibles, photographs, birth, marriage and death certificates, obituaries and newspaper clippings, journals, diaries and letters and family group sheets/family trees that others have compiled. If you’re using a software or online family tree product you find blank charts that will get you started.
Despite DNA testing and the numerous genealogical records that are now available online, your best bet for starting your genealogical search is through older relatives that can pass down the knowledge that they have from previous generations. Interview as many of these older relatives as possible and take careful notes.
Don’t rely on your relative to intuitively understand the kind of data that you want to collect. Come prepared with a set of interview questions so you don’t forget anything. Some questions may be obvious – for instance, asking for the names of family members that the relative remembers. Other questions may not be as obvious – questions about family traditions and customs that may give you insight into the family’s religious or cultural heritage.
Now it’s time to start doing some serious digging. Whereas once, you would have had to go to various offices in order to access the records held by various government offices, today you can find many of historical and official records online. In the United States, such records include:
- The National Archives and Records Administration where you can find census data from 1790 – 1950.
- State archives with pioneer certificates, Native American records.
- The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation where the names of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island are recorded.
- Library of Congress that archives local history and genealogy reference services.
- Department of the Interior has records of Native Americans.
FamilySearch, a genealogy research service run by the Morman Church, has compiled over 2000 historical record collections that allow you to see primary records about your ancestors. These records include birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates from many states and countries, military records, probate records, estate filings and records of migration and naturalization. The FamilySearch site also has a vast collection of newspaper articles, directories and compiled genealogies.
Check the FindaGrave website to see if you have relatives whose tombstones appear there. Often, tombstones include family data including the deceased’s parents’ names.
If you’re looking for records from other countries you can often find them at the government offices of the countries in question. A number of genealogical societies representing specific ethnicities have on-going projects in which they translate the records from other countries into English. Alternately you can hire a bi-lingual genealogy researcher who speaks the language in question to help you with your search.
The Ancestry.com website has a large collection of records including birth, marriage & death records, military records, occupations & education records, immigration and travel records, parish records and city, trade & telephone directories. Ancestry is a commercial site so while many of the records are available for free, others become available when you take out a paid membership.
DNA testing isn’t the answer to all questions, as it is sometimes viewed, but it does offer answers about your ethnicity and links to others who have also had their DNA tested. If your DNA matches another person who is in the system, the system will alert you to each other’s presence. Then it’s your job to follow through and discover how you are related.
The DNA test can also answer questions about your ethnicity – in some cases, identifying the area of the country from which you come. Many people find that, when they discover their ethnicity, it answers questions about family rites and traditions. It can also alert you to possible familial traits and pre-dispensation to genetic illnesses.
Today’s social media is an indispensable tool for genealogy researchers who can reach out for support, ideas, search suggestions and other forms of assistance via others who are also involved in genealogy research.
Genealogical societies and self-help groups can be a great help in notifying you about new records that have become available, translating inscriptions, letters and photograph notes from another language and generally giving you support as you embark on the amazing journey of genealogy research.