One of my new adventures in 2011 evolved around discovering how I came to be. Some previous co-workers warned me that ancestry research would become very addicting and end up becoming a lifelong hobby. I can’t argue that fact as in a short time I was able to uncover quite a bit of information on my family and doing so only inspires you to uncover more. Geneology research, for me, is something I enjoy but need to schedule time for. Once you become suberged there’s a lot to keep track of, recording notes, archiving photos, creating tasks lists, etc. If you’re not working on it frequently, it’s easy to forget where you left off or what individual or family you were working on.
Utilizing Ancestry.com as a research tool is a fantastic place to start. In a short time you feel like you’re identifying a bloodline, connecting the dots, and perhaps finding some rare documents and photos related to your family. The tough part is connecting to the Ancestry community members, joining or inheriting trees, and confirming who has the correct or incorrect data on an individual. Setting your tree as public is very valuable because chances are, your tree will have some unique attributes that another member may want to link to if your family paths crossed at some point. There’s a downfall to that as well when some tree data you connect to may have ‘bad’ information. Where possible, try to cross reference other people’s material. To play it safe, suspect the information is wrong at first and try to prove it is accurate. That may be a bit extreme but I tend to go more of that route.
This week was special for me because I connected with a 2nd cousin from a family I know nothing about. My great grandmother passed away when she was 34 years old and my family has little if anything from her life. This new connection I have made is related to my great grandmother’s side of the family and has already shared images and information with me. To say the least, it’s been exciting for me. One item in particular is a childhood photo of my father’s uncle, ‘Chuckie’, whom no one knows much about. Thanks Susan!
I should have known I’d love doing this research as my first real lesson with history was back in college when I took an elective on the American Civil War. I’ll save that story for another day though. As I move forward now, I’m trying to find more free online archives available to the public. I’d like to obtain detailed obituaries, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc. and they’re not always easy to find on Ancestry’s website. If you have even a slight interest in building a family tree, I highly recommend getting started with Ancestry.com. Amazingly fun, rewarding, the usability and design is excellent, and they keep making improvements and adding more to their archives and search engine.