Anyone know of any good resources for researching a family tree? I thought about a membership to ancestry.com. Has anyone used this or similar sites or publications?
Cookie_Brookie, I too am interested in researching my family tree. I was also wondering about ancestory.com but don't know anyone who has tried it so I am reluctant to spend the money until I know more about it. I hope someone posts that's tried it.
My now-30-year-old-daughter and I did this project one summer when she was about 14. The fun part is the leg work, believe it or not! We went to the library geneology section and found a LOT of info. We were pretty lucky in that my father's family had arrived in our hometown in 1842, belonged to the same church for generations (my children were 6th generation) so the most fun part was a trip to the Catholic Cemetery, where we found the gravesite of the original family member who had come from Germany!
It was great to see the 3 different spellings of our last name as it had become Americanized (during WWI and WWII, German names in particular were changed to be less German and more American).
We've done a lot of internet research, too, but I'm telling you .... there is NOTHING like trampling thru cemeteries, making tracings of the headstones, teaching your child to use library resources, talking to older family members about their memories, seeing rocking chairs and china that has been passed down from generation to generation ..... it is an awesome experience, that was especially fun for me since it was the summer project for me and my daughter!!
My now-30-yr-old daugher is researching her dad's family tree and I think she's gone exploring on ancestry.com. She's on vacation this week, but I'll get with her when she gets back and let you know her thoughts on the value of it.
Thanks for the reply's. I already have names dating back to the early 1700's that another family member researched. I, however, would like to find more information about these relatives ie. orgin, other family members names, occupation ... ect.. We've just about tapped out all of our other resources and I'm looking for some new sources of information. I'm planning on making a book for my family about our ancestors and then getting as much information about those who are still alive as I can so I can pass it on down to my children and grandchildren.
I haven't ever used Ancestry.com myself - can't afford it - but have heard great reviews from those who have. Another free site you may want to try is www.familysearch.org. It's run by the LDS church and they have a lot of great resources. You can search for names and they have articles on how to do research too. Also, if you have an LDS family history center near you (they're all over the US) they have people there who can help you and some have free access to Ancestry as well. You can probably find the closest one on FamilySearch.org. You don't have to be a member of the church to use their resources either and they don't try to convert you if you go into one of their centers either (I know some people worry about that).
I have to agree with indydebi that some of the best experiences are getting out and doing things off the computer, but if you don't have any ancestors in your area and aren't planning any trips soon, the internet has great resources. Sometimes you can just look up the official sites of cities and counties where they lived and find information on the area and history and possible resources to find information. A lot of municipalities all over the country have genealogical resources for doing research in a particular area and there is usually a number of someone you can call who is there just to help people with that. Good luck in your search!
Good for you. Genealogy is so interesting! My grandmother and aunt got into it when they helped me in the 8th grade with my social studies project, and have been addicted ever since. My aunt has been all over the country and world, going to libraries and cemetaries. Some interesting things she found out:
I am related to Anne Boleyn, Princess Di, Charlemagne, and Monica Lewinski!
One of my great -great-however many great grandmothers got institutionalized b/c she spent too much $$. Then he married someone else.
I'm a descendant of the Judge in the Salem Witch trials.
My family came to Virginia in 1607.
I appreciate all of you so much. I am kind of new at all of this. I'm 22 so I don't know much history other than my grandparents and I'm not getting any help from my other family members. I find family history sooo facsinating. I've began hosting a family reunion every year in September and I would love to have more information to share with everyone by then.
You should send out an email or letter to everyone, telling them that you are working on this, and to kindly write down any stories/history they know, and make copies of anything that might help you out and bring it with them to the reunion. People love to help with these kinds of projects.
cookie-brookie, I just signed up for ancestry.com! I started with their free 14 day trial, and was hooked. I've been a member for about 2 months, and I really find it fascinating. It seems as though you can cancel your membership at any time, you aren't locked into any contract, as far as I could tell .
The thing that really caught me was that they do a lot of searching for you for what they call "hints", and also you can see the scanned originals of documents like birth/marriage/death certificates, or even immigration documents. The more info you have available, the more documentation you'll be able to find. I definitely reccomend the 14 day trial at least!
I'd have to go back and do some research to figure out what websites I was using but I was able to get a lot of info for free. I found one site where people post their research results of their family tree and I found complete family trees for both my mother's and my father's families. I've found that not all the info is always accurate and there are always people with same names so before you go e-mailing somebody to say "hey, Cousin!" make sure it's the right family. I've e-mailed someone in the wrong family and another someone in the right family. I found a message board last year where someone was looking for family reunions for my dad's family and turns out she is my cousin. She's been researching the family for some time and I was able to send her a picture of her mother as a child who she didn't have any photos of. It turned out to be pretty cool.
ancestry.com is good as long as you are going to be committed to use the site for your research. If you can only do research every once in a while (which I can't do because I'm doing more cakes!) then you may not get the most out of the $$ you are shelling out for the membership.
The other hint I can give you about genealogy web sites: be careful of everything you read. People can post anything on a website without having the documentation to back it up. I found this really true when I was documenting my ancestry for the DAR. It can be frustrating if you don't have good info. I love family research and indydebi is right...walking cemeteries is a lot of fun!
One of the most valuable pieces of family geneology documentation I came across was a church Jubilee membership book. When my grandfather passed away and the family was disbursing his belongings, I managed to find and get this book, the 75th anniversary of the catholic church he had belonged to his entire life, published in 1921.
In the back of the book was the membership list. What really made this great was they listed the married couple, and their children, but they ALSO listed the woman's maiden name. What a wonderful cross reference!
There was a page where they listed some history of the church's old records, including the fact that my multi-great grandfather had paid his six-and-a-half-cents pew rent for that month.
So don't overlook church records and membership publications ... a GREAT resource!!
When we were going through my grandma's things after she died we found a church jubilee book too. It was a little country parish where each family had 10-12 kids! Of course we're related to 95% of the people in the book. It took me weeks to enter all that information into my database....and soooo worth it!
I've researched my family off and on for about 20 years, but I've never signed up for ancestry. Mainly because my research is so sporadic that I don't want to pay if I'm not going to use it.
Our library, and most main libraries, have wonderful genealogy resources. I can get access to ancestry, census records, histories, and more without paying out of pocket except for what I print, like census records, etc.
The first, best place to start is with your family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family Bibles, etc. Record everything and write it down. You can download all types of forms for free.
I have to share some information that I was thrilled about. I really didn't know much about my dad's paternal grandmother and her family. I knew her name but had never even seen a picture of her. My grandfather has passed away but he never talked about his parents or any other ancestors. He was one of 11 kids and only 2 are left. The weekend after Thanksgiving, my parents, husband and I decided to go down to Texas to visit these last 2 living aunts and while we were there, to see if I could get any more information.
Talk about a fantastic visit! I got to meet cousins that I never knew and they are super nice (not too many nice people in this family). We were at my cousins house with the 2 aunts and his brother. My cousin walks out of the room, no big deail and comes back with a box. As it turns out, it is a box of letters to my great-grandmothers aunt. There are probably about 100 letters in there and most of them were written by my grandmother!! They let me bring them home and I am, very slowly, scanning them and transcribing them. I can't not begin to tell you how much information I have gained from them. Very quickly, I was able to find out where she was from and quickly find several more generations back.
Good Luck with your research! It's never-ending because there is always one more mystery to solve or 1 more relative to find.
tracycakes, when you mention family bibles 'n such, it reminds me of what I've started to do, specifically due to our family history research.
Record YOUR births, marriages, deaths, etc., in a family bible somewhere. We dont' write letters anymore, but I think we write to family members more than ever ... via email. I have 3 or 4 3-ring binders of emails printed out. Stories of my sister's ordeal as she found out her son was ADHD and everything she went thru (file this under medical history); miles of emails over a 4+ year time period as my other (retarded) sister went thru blood cancer, double kidney shut down and her eventual passing. So much family history in these emails, the sorrows, the passions, the joys when she went into remission, the funny stories that lifted us during this time.
We have a responsibility to record the present for the future. Don't let your children miss out on YOUR history.
I have pages of emails passed between us and friends in England during 9-11 and when Princess Diana died. Headline news that will survive the generations ... and my grandchildren will be able to read what gramma was thinking and doing when it happened.
So don't just hit that delete key. You are deleting history in the making.
You are very lucky to have family who will share those resources. I've become the "keeper" of things for my family, but there are many families where they fight of papers/pictures and the sad thing is that these items often get destroyed just so others can't have them. Have fun learning about your family. You all are tempting me into doing more research and I just can't spare the time to do it right now
I use Ancestry all the time. It is a treasure trove of information in census records. I have been doing genealogy for 30 years - my cousins were looking at my book full of documents/letters/wills/certificates and having a blast. They were fascinated by the information.
I have trotted through cemetery's, gone to church offices, wrote letters, called people, visited old relatives, gone to courthouses for records and dragged a computer and a scanner around to get copies of pictures.
The census records on Ancestry are worth the money you pay. You can go to genealogy librarys for this information but I can do this at 2:00 AM if I want to and for it it is worth every dime I pay for it!
Indydebi, what you are doing is a great idea!
I spent some time yesterday transcribing some more of my great-grandmothers letters and I can't tell you how much these mean to me, how special they are. I'm scanning the front and back of each envelope (since there are scribbles and stuff on them), scanning each page of the letter and then transcribing them exactly as written.
This woman died 20 years before I was born but I feel like I know her and she had such a hard life. The facts that are being revealed are amazing and the people she refers to. I'm so glad that somebody saved these.
I just wanted to give you all an update. I'm so excited!!! I have been searching my heart out on rootsweb.com and other sites and so far have traced one side of my family back to the 1400's in france, and another back to the 1600's in England and Ireland.
Its a lot of work because I have found a lot of conflicting entries so I have to be careful and weed through the details. I have found I have a lot of law men in my family.
As far as keeping records now. I am typing up a form that at the next family reunion everyone will fill out... things like date of birth, residences, children, schools, professions, ect... will be on it. all of this information will go into a binder (maybe into a real book later) and then passed down to my children and grandchildren. Each year I will try to update information.
I appreciate your help so much. Seeing your stories is very encouraging, especially on the days I can't seem to find anything. I think I will eventually get the membership to ancestry.com but for now I'm going to get all of the names and dates I can for researching more in depth later.
Your family reunion form sounds like a wonderful idea!
How about adding a section on "this person is most known for ....." to get some life story info? Mine for example, might have things like "known for making cakes" or the most popular one is "known for having a laugh like a walrus!"
I was surprised to learn my father-in-law, this sweet little 'ole 83 year old man ... was a middle weight boxer and dang good at it!
I learned some years ago that the farm my father grew up on is rumored to have been a station on the underground railroad. (It's very possible as it's just a few miles from the Levi Coffin home in Fountain City, Indiana. Levi Coffin was known as the Master Conductor on the Underground Railroad and it's said that any slave passing thru the Coffin home, made it to Canada.)
The family cookbook I'm making has only one requirement when a sibling or relative contributes a recipe ... it must have a story to go with it, such as how they got the recipe, why it's a favorite, etc.
My "Aunt Helen's Green Beans" story is legendary in my household ... it's part of my history and keeps my aunt's memory alive at the same time.
You've given me a wonderful idea to incorporate!
Well Michellenj I just found out we are related. I too am related to Charlamagne. We must be like 300th cousins, lol!
Cookie-Brookie, I love finding stuff on rootsweb and I have found lots of information and traced them back many centuries! Just don't forget that in the "genealogy world", you really need to use that as a starting point and then get your own documentation; census records, land records, marriage certificates, etc.
I recently found out some information about my great-grandfathers family that I had been stuck on for many years. I knew he came from Texas and where but I couldn't find out much about his father. I found some information on the web about a week before I was going to Texas anyway and found out where my gg-grandfather and ggg-grandfather were buried. The cool thing is that I found their graves while I was there! Well, I found my gg-grandfathers. Mapquest was off by about 8 miles on where the other cemetary was so by the time we found it, it was too dark and rainy to be able to see anything. But we are headed down to Big Bend Nat'l Park in a week or so and on the way back, I'm going to do some more grave searching.
One tip about graveyard searching: of course, you want to take pictures of the tombstones and some of the really old ones are really hard to read. Take shaving cream and rub it over the gravestone. The foam goes into the letters and then you can read it.
Thanks Tracy! I will be sure to take some shaving cream when I start my graveyard searching this summer.
I actually plan on doing as much research as I can through rootsweb and other sites for now then when I feel like I gotten as much information as I can I'm going to get a membership to ancestry.com and try to use them for more verification. Plus I alway try to use the postings on rootweb that have sources sited. I also try to find more than one of the same entry just to make sure I'm on the right track.
I already have over 200 names on my tree and I haven't even started on my dads family yet. Its so exciting when you have been searching for hours and finally make that breakthrough.
I'm planning on spending most of my summer (when I'm not working) researching my moms side of the family. I want as much information about these people as I can get. Then this Fall at our family reunion I will have a tree made and hopefully a book with all of the information and pictures in it to share with everyone else. One good thing is my dad has a large printer he uses for making blueprints so that will come in handy when i get ready to make the tree.
ancestry.com worked for me! I actually found my older brother and two older sisters! I knew about my brother, as I'd met him when I was three, but the sisters were a shock! And when we all met we found out we have two more older brothers! I posted a message on the board relating to our Surname