5 Steps to Finding Your Family Heritage

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Where do we come from? Why are we here? These two questions are as old as time and have been asked by hundreds of generations that preceded us. Philosophers from ancient civilizations across the globe have been haunted by these queries. Modern day age thinkers believe that the first place to identify our past is to trace our family roots and learn our place of origin.

Knowing your family history will build your understanding of your relationship to your ancestors and will help you establish a spiritual connection with your past. Turning to family journals, photo albums, and saved letters will provide a glimpse of days gone by and how your ancestors spent their lives. Perhaps you are an American with an Italian bloodline.

That will give you the right to claim Italian citizenship and the associated benefits: such as access to the European Union labour market. It will keep you abreast of your family’s medical history and will allow you to take precautionary steps (if required) for any disease or illness that runs in the family. If you are just beginning your journey of self-discovery and do not know where to start from-do not fret. We have outlined five steps that you can take to explore your family heritage.

  1. Start with Names

Look up all the names possible: first names, middle names, last names, maiden names. Talk to your elderly relatives, look at family photos, refer to old newspaper articles and check old certificates. Stay vigilant when you are reviewing female relatives’ maiden names as they have changed it after marriage. Watch out for any naming patterns that may be currently (or previously) utilized in your family as it will guide you to identify generations gone by.  It was a recurring practice for family surnames to be adopted as nicknames. Speaking of nicknames, these also will help ensure you are on the right ancestral path. Keep in mind that the way you spell your name could be different than your great-great-grandfather’s style of spelling. Variations may exist as people may have used a different lingual dialect back in the day.

  1. Gather Familial Anecdotes

Constant communication with your relatives will be an imperative part of your voyage as you hear and gather family stories. Do your future descendants a gigantic favour and start recording all the stories for all time by either penning it down or storing them digitally in the multimedia format of your choice. Essentially, these familial anecdotes are precious memories that have been preserved and will allow you to get to know your ancestors. These stories will teach you any rituals or traditions that could be unique to your bloodline or may share legends that have been passed down from generation to generation across multiple timelines. It is highly probable that the stories will contain embellishments but will still act as an effective indicator to your next research milestone.

  1. Choose an Ancestor

You will make better headway if you are able to narrow your search process and choose one particular ancestor or family line to learn more about. Perhaps you are curious to know more about whom you were named after or you want to find out more about your mother’s parents. The goal here is not whom you choose to examine or what you study, it is to ensure that your pool of research bears fruitful results by being a manageable project. If you are just now beginning your research process and are starting out on your family tree, then the size of the project may overwhelm you. That is not what we want for you. You could get lost in the data and miss out important hints to your family’s past.

  1. Gather Important Statistics

Ensure that you document any relevant numbers that are associated with your family name search. This can include places and dates of birth, deaths and marriages. Papers, certificates and old photo albums in your own home will help point you in the right direction along with interviewing your relatives. Remember that your current kin will be your most vital asset in your family tree task. After all, it is you and your ancestry VS 23andMe. Even if you gain conflicting information, record it all down. For example, if you get two differing birth dates for Uncle Sam, write them both down. You will eventually come across information that will assist you to identify the correct one. When you assess your research and share it with others, the roadmap that you should be following will become evident to you. To reassess your data, keep reviewing the information you have accumulated. Ask yourself if the source you obtained it from is credible. Refer to official records to fill in the empty spaces. Sites such as Findmypast have more than four billion records that include marriage, death and birth records. These will form the foundation of your research.  Newspaper reports will also serve as a strategic tool of reference.

  1. Piece Your Progress

Genealogy is a big jigsaw puzzle that allows you to dive in and assemble the pieces. If not done in the correct fashion, you will not be able to perceive the bigger picture. Continuous innovation in communication and technology has become a norm in international, modern societies. The advancements in fiber internet technology has revolutionized the way mankind interacts with each other. Smartphones, laptops, desktops, tablets, and such have become common household items and placed the world at our fingertips. It has opened the floodgates to a sea of never-ending information. As communication patterns and styles have adapted accordingly, so have our minds’. Genealogy software programs will facilitate data storage and let you view the factors in a chart form. You will be able to scrutinize the data from a number of different dimensions and comprehend it in various lights. Pedigree charts and family group sheets can also serve as meaningful, effective instruments in helping you piece your family tree. Once you have fit the pieces together in your family puzzle, you will have a realistic idea of where you came from and who your ancestors were.

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