No matter your age, gender, or lifestyle, we all want to feel a sense of belonging. If you have ever wondered about who your ancestors were and what kind of life they led before you came into the world, you may want to consider researching and finding your family tree.
Researching into your family history is a hobby that has boomed in popularity, especially with genealogy documentary shows like Who Do You Think You Are. To help you get started, here are 8 useful tips you can use.
Before you start researching your family tree, it’s important that you get organized. Before conducting research, you may want to use an online genealogical database that you can use to store and organize the information you find. When beginning your research, it can be easy to lose track of what you are looking for, so having everything filed and organized is key.
Treasure Hunt at Home
Some of the most valuable clues that can help you learn more about your ancestry can be hiding in plain sight, such as in your home. If you live in the family home, focusing your hunt in areas such as the basement, attic, and drawers can unmask clues and more information about your family’s past. You may find documents, photographs, and personal correspondence that can fill in the gaps. Items that have dates on are especially helpful. If your hunt requires you to search through artifacts in your relatives’ home, make sure that you involve them in the process and explain what you are doing and trying to achieve.
Speak to Your Elders
Talking to your older relatives is a great way to learn more about your family history; they can be living libraries full of knowledge and experience that can help you put the pieces together. Interviewing your elders with a digital recorder will ensure you get everything on tape. Make sure that you ask specific questions that may refresh their memory and reveal new details.
All the information that you have gathered in person can be used to search online to find out more about your family tree. Thanks to technology, there are tons of resources at your disposal that collect records from across the world, spanning over 100 years. There’s information here about Death Records, which you can look into with websites like Public Records Reviews. Their site can help you search death records of your loved ones, alongside birth records, address history, and name change records.
Get a DNA Test
If you’re dedicated to finding out more about your family tree, going one step further and getting a DNA test may be the right option to take. There are ancestry testing kits that can lead you to people and places you never thought were possible. While DNA tests and the results can be highly useful when performing research, the decision to get one should not be taken lightly. DNA tests can expose family maternity and paternity secrets that your ancestors or immediate family would prefer to be kept hidden.
Use Social Media
There are lots of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest which can be great online resources to explore your ancestry. When conducting research, connecting and searching for others who share the same ancestral surname can be an eye-opening experience. When using social media, it’s advised to look for local organizations such as tour guides, public archives, and libraries, as well as genealogy-related services.
Manage Your Expectations
There are popular TV shows like ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ which raise unduly expectations that each conquest will uncover a famous ancestor. While these kinds of shows may have given you inspiration and motivation to research into your own family tree, it’s important that you stay realistic and manage your expectations. For most people, the ancestors that are discovered and the lives that they led will be a lot more mundane.
From the minute you start conducting research into your family tree, you may come up against roadblocks and barriers. With a lot of time, patience, research, and even money put into your journey, the last thing you want is to lose steam and give up. While some people may be able to find information within an instant, you may need to do more work to get what you want. To get the results you are looking for, it’s important that you stay motivated.
Every journey starts at home, so if you’re interested in learning more about who your ancestors were and what happened to them, this can help fill in the blanks and give your life more purpose and understanding. All the tips listed above will require you to do detective work to learn about your ancestry in a meaningful way.