Genealogy aka Family History has become of great interest in the last ten years. People of all races, ages and economic backgrounds want to know their ancestry. The latest use of DNA in genealogy has even opened numerous doors for those adopted or hitting roadblocks preventing them from progressing up their family tree.
While not everything is on the internet, many family searches can be done in the comfort of your own home at popular sites as Ancestry, FamilySearch, State & County Archives and personal websites & blogs. While some of these sites are subscription based, many have trials, and many are free to use at home or at your local library. Family History Centers (FHC) are in about every city/state and can have microfilm mailed for your personal viewing at your local FHC or registered library. There are professional genealogists throughout the world who can assist those in search of their personal pedigrees. Many sites such as AncestorCloud, Genealogists.com, and ProGenealogists.com have researchers ready to place a bid to work on your genealogist project. They reside in places throughout the world ready to research the specialist records in their areas.
Are you interested in discovering more about your ancestry? Do you feel you do not have enough information to start? Most people have more information than they realize, either through local certificates or family reunion books. The census was taken starting in 1790 every ten years up to the latest release of 1940. So, if one can find their ancestor on a 1940 census, in most cases their families can be traced back every ten years, looking for documents along with the way based on the areas they live.
For those who have American ancestry, as you research to your immigrant ancestor (those who were the first in your ancestry to reach the American shores), some lineage/royal societies have listed gateway ancestors (the name was given to those immigrants when someone joins a society through them). If you connect to a gateway ancestor, you will be related to the ancestor that the gateway ancestor connects to. Many have found they are directly related to those who signed the Magna Carta, the Crusaders, Charlemagne, other Kings & Queens, and many other lineage/royal societies. Once you find your connection, you or your genealogist will have to document birth, marriage, death, and linking to parents starting with you up to the gateway ancestor. At the point of the gateway ancestor, you will be allowed to use the family member’s application as proof from that point on. It is very exciting to find who you are related to, but while being related to someone famous is exciting, we should be just as proud to be descended from farmers, coal miners, musicians, preachers and other occupations as their bloodlines are what made us who we are today – a combination of their DNA down through the ages.
What can you do to assist in your personal family history – especially those who have children, work long hours in your careers or take care of loved ones, and time is limited? Most societies will require for the first three generations – 1) YOU, 2) Parents & 3) Grandparents that you have copies of original birth, marriage/divorce, and death certificates if they exist. Depending on your parents’ and/or grandparents’ ages, birth certificates may not have been required, and you will be allowed to use a substitute record such as a census record, Family Bible or tombstone. Some courthouses had fires; there is not much to the 1890 census due to a fire. All those cases are understood, and there are other records that can be used in their places. I recommend that you get a box and start collecting the items listed at the end of this article. Then you will be one step ahead when the time is right for you to discover your family heritage.
Examples of Genealogical Resources
Birth, Marriage & Death Certificates
Probate or Legal Documents
Newspapers & Family Books
Written by Tina Sansone, Professional Genealogist