For some, finding out who they are related to, gives them a sense of belonging, a purpose. They start to feel connected to others. Searching out their ancestors, lets them learn about those they never knew in this life. They want to know them. Did they have the same struggles in life? Do they have wisdom they can pass down through the generations? Can they learn something from their great, great, great grandmother that she learned the hard way? Thus, saving them the trouble of also having to learn it the hard way.
Three out of my 4 grandparents were gone before I was old enough to really know them. My paternal grandfather passed away before I was born. My paternal grandmother died shortly after I was born. My maternal grandfather taught me how to swing at a piñata. I was 6 when I attended my first funeral. It was his. My maternal grandmother passed away while I was in college. She spent most of my life, living in a nursing home, suffering with bad arthritis. I can remember she watched a lot of soap operas, and rarely had anything to say. I wish I had taken the opportunity to really sit and talk to her. I bet by asking the right questions, we may have been able to have a conversation, and I could have learned something about her that would have helped her to become more personable to me.
Seeking out your ancestors, where to start? It’s a task that can seem very daunting and intimidating. I found that the best way to start is by entering a little information about you into what is known as a fan chart. It can be found here: www.genealogywallcharts.com. This can give you a visual of how much of your family history has been done, and how many gapping holes you need to start working to fill in.
Remember, you are not alone in doing your family history. You may have distant relatives you don’t even know, working on your same family history line.
Family history begins in the home. This is where you start to collect everything you own that tells your family’s story (pictures, newspaper articles, journals, ect.). Talk to your parents. Find out the names of their parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Start filling in that fan chart, and watch your family history come to life, as these people you’re related to become more real to you.
The next step, and really the future of genealogy, is getting on camera those ancestors that are still around to share their life stories. At Family Storyteller, I want to help people preserve their grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and their parents, while they can still share the stories that shaped their lives.
Don’t be afraid to get started. Baby step your way to getting to really know your family through researching your family lines.
"Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell." -Louisa May Alcott