Learning about your ancestors is always fun, plus you never know what you can find out. Some of them might have done some great deeds while on the other hand there is always a possibility that they weren’t very nice, so you shouldn’t keep your hopes up. Whatever the case may be, researching your family history is a great opportunity for you to learn about where you come from.
Even though this project can turn out to be quite fascinating and entertaining, at the same time, it can prove to be very complicated. It is not always easy to find all the information you need, so, sometimes, you might have to work extra hard and be creative when it comes to finding new sources. In this text, we are going to provide you with some basic tips that will help you start this investigation.
Talk with family members
The first step on this journey is to talk with your close relatives. Our advice is to start with the oldest one, a grandmother, or even a great-grandmother. Surely, she is going to have a lot of beautiful stories to tell you. Inquire about her life and childhood but most importantly about her parents, sibling, and grandparents.
Since you can easily get lost in these stories, you should record every interview. Even though you have probably heard these tales millions of times, it is important to go over them one more time because there might be some details that you didn’t notice before and that can help you in your research.
Besides talking to the oldest member of your family, you should also interview other relatives. Why? Well, they might know some stories that you weren’t told and those can fill in the blanks. Plus, it is a great way to connect with people over some memories and prevent them to be forgotten forever.
Go on a treasure hunt
Without a doubt, this is the most interesting part of this entire process. Why? Well, because you get the chance to rummage through old photographs and items that have been in your family’s possession for decades. When it comes to photos, these usually have a short description written on the back which means that you can learn a lot from them. What’s more, it is also a perfect way to put a face on the people you have been listening about.
In addition, a lot of people love to collect small items that might seem worthless, but that can assist you on this hunt. So go to your grandparent’s home, ask them where they keep that old box filled with memories from their childhood, and go through everything you find in it. These can include anything, from birth and wedding certificates to old letters.
Keep a journal
This is the most important thing that you have to do and a step that you cannot skip. During your research, you will be presented with multiple stories and there is absolutely no way you can remember them all. Okay, you will remember the gist, but you will soon forget most of the details. We have already discussed how significant these are and what a great help they can be, so the best thing that you can do is to write everything down.
Start with the recordings of the interviews you have conducted and don’t forget to add notes about the things you have found out. This way you will be able to notice if there are some parts of the stories that should be further explored, and you should also add questions that pop in your mind when you go over all the entries. Later, you can ask your family member about those details, or continue researching them on your own.
Now that you have gathered all the information you could from your relatives, it is time to expand your search. As you probably know, there are multiple websites that are created specifically for the purpose of helping people learn about their family history, and one of them is CRI Genetics. Here you will be able to find all records of all sorts that date back at least a hundred years.
Furthermore, since the Internet is the greatest invention of all time, you will also be able to look through some old newspaper editions. In the past, almost all events were reported in magazines and newspapers meaning that almost certainly you will be able to find some new information. The chances of this are even greater if one of your ancestors was a writer, artist, politician, and so on.
Take a DNA test
The popularity of this test has greatly increased in the last few years. Why? Well, because it is very simple and it can tell you so much about your history. There are numerous laboratories that conduct these, so all you have to do is to provide them with your DNA sample, and in a few weeks, you will find out where your family originates from. Moreover, you might also find some distant relatives that you didn’t know existed and expand your family. Another thing, since we live in the era of social media platforms, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find and contact some of these people online.
Although this test won’t provide you with some concrete information about your ancestors, it will help you learn where they came from and where they lived. This can turn out to be quite fascinating because a lot of people believe that they know all these details about their family, but more often than not, it turns out that the truth is completely different.
Make a family tree
We believe that this is one of the most valuable possessions any family can have. If yours doesn’t have one of these, well, after acquiring all the relevant information using the above-discussed methods, you can design one.
Start inputting information about you and your siblings, then move on to your parents, and work your way from there to the oldest known relative. This is a great memory that can be passed from one generation to another, and the best part is that it can never be concluded i.e. everyone in your family will have something to add to it.