Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Family History- More Than Just Names and Dates

So you have been searching your ancestry and getting your family tree in order. You have names. You have dates. So you might be thinking, these are just a bunch of names, birth dates, and that's about the gist of it. Well, think again. 

When I was younger, I used to think of genealogy as a pretty boring topic and it kind of ran neck and neck with ancient history. Blah blah...boring! But now that I've grown up, had children of my own, I want to know who my family was and where they came from. Now, I have become so thoroughly involved in the research behind it, that it's become more personal to me. Not just a pet project, but something much more. It's almost like an addiction; I just can't get enough! As the title of this blog states, it's definitely more than just names and dates! They were real people living real lives.

By focusing on just one person on the branch of my tree, it's almost as if I am trying to know that person on a more personal level. I am trying to learn who this person really was, not just by name but by their lifestyles too. What were they like? Would I like them even if they weren't a member of my family? What did they do for a living and how did they survive in times of famine and war?

Before the Internet even came into everyone's homes, it was much harder to do research on our ancestors. Today, in this digital age, we are able to send information all over the world in just minutes. There are literally hundreds of web sites on genealogy to help us in our searches. Some require membership fees, yet others do not. We don't have to leave our homes to request copies of birth certificates or look at census records, as we can do this online through our computers. Even though the internet is a great resource tool to use, we can still use the older methods of actually talking to our elders, other family members to get this information. We don't have to rely on just the internet and a few key phrases to get the results we are looking for, but it does help. 

Another idea for you to consider, would be to obtain a copy of an ancestors birth certificate. All you need is the name of said person, their parents name and the date of birth; it shouldn't be an act of Congress to get this information. Just contact the counties Vital Records and Statistics office. Also, you could join a genealogical society in the state where your family has originated from. This may help you and keep your headaches to a minimum!


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