Obsessed with tracing your ancestry?
If you’re constantly asking, “Who am I?” and “Where do I come from?”, tracing your ancestry can be an exciting journey to finding the answers. This latest craze sweeping America is also an experience that sheds light on the history of many nations as well as genealogy, religion, politics and world events.
5 Tips to Get You Started
1. Research. Interview. Record. Repeat.
Learn clues about your family history by writing down or recording the memories of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins –even close family friends. Ask them about the details of their lives, such as the places they’ve lived, births and deaths, marriages, occupations, interests, hobbies, awards, resumes, schools they attended. Look through family Bibles and scrapbooks, diaries and letters, old photographs and memorabilia, wills and family heirlooms.
2. Collect Family Stories
While details like names and dates are integral to building your family tree, collecting family stories helps to flesh out your place in history. Anecdotes about military service, family vacations, a funny detail about your father’s first job; mom winning a bakeoff, your uncle’s recollection of seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time, meeting a family legend –all these tales give a certain richness to the words and numbers you’re gathering. What’s more, family stories will help enormously in your research. Here’s where the “repeat” part of tip number one comes in. Select one story to investigate at a time. Following people on their journey through life helps to connect the dots when it comes to deciphering public records and information.
3. Organize Your Findings
As you explore your family history, use online tools or other ways to organize all the research and records you’re finding. This includes using pedigree or family tree charts and genealogical forms. Document every piece of information you uncover: take pictures, photocopies, transcriptions, etc. and keep it all in a safe place, so you can add to it over time.
4. Search Everywhere
Start by delving into the U.S. Census, which is the largest American database for details on family history, especially passenger lists, immigration records, naturalization papers, land deeds and other governmental documents. Run your own Internet search for genealogy or use one of the many online resources for finding out more about your roots. The more resources you explore, the more information you’re likely to uncover. If possible, travel to the places where family members are born and lived, visiting local cemeteries, courthouses, churches, museums, libraries and historical societies to search for information.
5. Join a Family History Group
Connect with other genealogists and family historians through social networking. Join the family history society in your area, and attend classes on best practices for researching family history records or how to avoid running into bureaucratic brick walls. To find one, visit the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS).
Create a Personalized Family Tree at PlaqueMaker
Tracing your ancestry is the first step to building a family tree. When you’ve completed your search, you can share your personal history by designing a family tree plaque – a much appreciated gift for a variety of occasions including birthdays, anniversaries, marriages, reunions, memorials and more. We know each family is unique, so we design each of our family trees just for you. Customize with family name and date, then add the names and birth dates of each member of the family. Include up to 50 names. We’ll email you a free digital proof by the next business day. Most orders ship within two business days of approval and payment. For indoor use only.