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Conducting a Family Search
The purpose of genealogy has remained the same -- to find your ancestors. However, the advancements for genealogy have changed greatly, attracting newcomers to start their genealogy work and assisting experienced genealogists with a surplus of resources.
Depending upon how much information you know about your ancestors, there are many different ways of approaching your family search.
1. Using the Internet - The Internet provides valuable resources with numerous family search sites. The site that I visit most frequently requires that you know the first and last name of an ancestor who has been deceased for over a year. I looked up my deceased grandfatherís name and the site provided his date of birth, birthplace, the date of his marriage, and his date of death. It also included his parentsí full names and his wifeís name, all of which were hyperlinked. The hyperlink advantage meant their names included their own history. I clicked onto my grandmotherís name and found the identical information of her birth and death dates, and her parentsí names. I also clicked onto my great-grandparents names and could examine their history. While I received a lot of information from just typing in my grandfatherís name, detailed information is not always available. In many cases, the amount of available information relies on the amount of work that the family has done.
2. Contact an older relative - Getting a relative involved will be the best personal support to help start your family search. My aunt is an avid genealogist and through correspondence on a family website, I was able to confirm ancestors and also discover other relatives from the searches on the Internet. Your older relatives have connections and knowledge of your ancestors and this helps the discovery process of the family search. Older relatives who have done the work can be passionate about their genealogy and that will be a positive force for you as you begin searching. Contacting them to assist with the genealogy work is a continuing service for your descendants and an advantage for your future posterity.
3. Visit a Family History Center- If you want to find historical evidence of your ancestors, a family history center can be invaluable. There are over 1,800 centers in the U.S. that offer patrons access to a family search. When I visited a family history center, I had helpful access to archived microfilm. In one section of the center there were aisles of microfilm stored according to surname and year of birth. After I found the correct microfilm from a 1920 census, I located my grandmotherís surname. In what appeared to be her fatherís handwriting was his name, his wifeís name, as well as the names of their young children. My grandmother was four years old and her family was residing in Hawaii. It was exhilarating to see a sample of my great-grandfatherís handwriting. It was written during the great depression, a time period which I studied extensively in grade school. Tracing my relatives back into time helped me to personally identify with my ancestors during that historical era.
The genealogical advancements are continuing to increase. Passionate genealogists have even gone to great lengths to prove relationships through DNA testing. Because of the advances in technology, it is easier than ever to find relatives and confirm relationships. With just the name of an ancestor, you can discover a line of relatives, and educate yourself about your descendants. Many tools and resources such as the Internet, your relatives, the library archives and even scientific advancements are available to assist you in your family search pursuits.
About the Author:
Stephanie Tuia is a web content specialist with interests in Genealogy. For more information, see how Relative Genetics can greatly enhance your genealogical pursuits for your family search.