As the days get shorter and holidays draw near, thoughts of family and your family history often come to mind. Have you ever wondered, ‘who am I, really? Where did my ancestors come from? Has anyone in my family tree ever been an artist like me?’ The questions are innumerable and very valid questions that every family should see answered. As the old saying goes, ‘you can’t know where you are going until you know where you came from’. This is more true than many realize.
Searching for your family history is a worthwhile venture and is not as hard as you may think. I personally have researched both sides of my family tree and my husbands heritage as well. There is a very real thrill in finding out you are related to the Royal family, or that your very distant Grandfather fought in the crusades. The world begins to seem a much smaller place after researching your family tree.
I recommend you begin by acquiring a computer program that is specially designed for storing all that data in a comprehensive way. Family trees can get so overwhelming in a very short time. One that is used worldwide and is very popular is ‘Family Tree Maker’. This one is preferred by many because it is user friendly and entire genealogies are online in this format and can be downloaded straight into your computer. This can save you hours of typing. You will still need to verify all of the additions for their accuracy, but you will be glad for the head start.
The video accompanying this article gives you great tips to get you started. If your family comes from anywhere in the UK, some free sites are listed on the video as well. In the U.S. there are a host of free sites you can get tons of information about your family from. Some require a small fee or allow you to do some transcribing of census information for some free time on their site. Here are some resources with links to free genealogy sites to get you started and well on your way to finding your heritage.
If you find yourself or a family member to be part of the Royal Family tree of England, you can find a ton of information about your distant relatives on Wikipedia. You will always need to find ways to verify the information no matter where it comes from. That will be covered in another article.
So, think about starting your research now. Get as much information as you can from living family members, then proceed from there. Keep in mind last names are not always recorded as spelled exactly the same or as you spell your name now. Surnames have variations of the same name because of transcribers errors etc., and sometimes names were shortened over time. For instance the name Lassiter may show up as Lassetter, Luster, or even Laster. None of these may be how you spell your name now, but it sounds similar or the same. This is where dates, spouses, children, location and circumstances all have to be considered.
Consider searching through the grandmothers line. Sometimes they are easier to search for and this tip alone can shorten your search tremendously. Looking for records of wills online is a great way to find your people. Sometimes you will not be able to find people who lived closer to your date of birth, but you can find a grandparent who lived 200 years ago who left a will. Then you can go in both directions and get the details of your family tree. Be flexible and have fun. Your descendants will thank you for the effort, if not now, then after you are gone. Preserve it while it can be found.
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