People have been interested in finding out who their ancestors were for years. I remember way back in the 1970’s that my aunt hired a researcher to trace our family tree, all the way back to the 1600’s! We discovered that our ancestors came from Germany, to Ireland, to the United States. It was quite interesting to see the documents she was given by the genealogist who did the work of tracing your family tree.
If you are just now getting started on tracing your family tree, here are a few tips to get you started. Of course, the best place to start is with your immediate family.
Your Immediate Family
Your mother and father, their parents and siblings, and their children. With very basic information on each family member, such as date of birth, date of death if applicable, date of marriage, you can find other members of the family. Start with yourself and your siblings, then go backwards in time, adding in names and dates for aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great grandparents. If your aunts and uncles are still living, ask them to help you fill in names of your cousins, second cousins, great aunts and uncles, and so on.
Census records can give you a lot of information. A Census is taken every 10 years in the United States. It is basically a record of all the people who live in the country at that time. The Census from 1930 listed all of my Mother’s living siblings by name and age, her mother and father, and an uncle that lived with them at the time the census was taken. It was very helpful to me to find that census, because I did not have the birthdates of my mother’s siblings.
Ancestry.com has tons of records, all available online. You can print them for your records if you wish. I found a copy of a form that my paternal grandfather filled out indicating that he was a legal alien in this country. He was applying for Naturalization. The record showed where he emigrated from, where he was born, my paternal grandmother’s name, and where she was born. It also shows that at the time he filled out that application, he spelled his last name differently from the way my Mother always spelled it. That was a very important finding.
Getting a DNA test done can help you find relatives, too. It is easy to get a DNA test done these days. They cost under a hundred dollars, and only take a few weeks to get the results back. I did two tests: One from Ancestry.com, and one from My Heritage. In both cases, I just swabbed my mouth with the provided q-tip, mailed it in, and received the results online. It was interesting to see that my DNA results showed what I had been told all my life: that one side came from Germany and Ireland, the other came from Russia and Austria.
There are so many places to check online if you are looking for relatives, or tracing your family tree. This article about tracing your family tree has lots of links for places to look for more information. What are you waiting for? Tracing your family tree is fun, and can help you find interesting facts about your ancestors.