October is Genealogy Month. A good time to take inventory of the family tree.
How much do you know about your relatives? Do you know where your family roots started? Can you remember the names of your grandparents? Your great-grandparents? What about your great, great-grandparents? Are they just some names or do you know their stories?
I have some knowledge of my heritage. I come from patriotic stock. My mother's family is from Tennessee and there was a signer of the Declaration of Independence in that line. I know my dad's family is directly related to Miles Standish, captain of the Mayflower. But my familiarity of the every day lives of the every day regular ancestors is sketchy at best. Lucky for me, several of my relatives have been heavily involved in doing our family's genealogy. What I need to do is take what they have researched and lay it down on my own family tree so that I can get to know those great souls who made it possible for me to be here today.
I came across an article in the Deseret News, that outlines simple ways to get interested in your personal genealogy:
1. Gather items. Get a box and keep it in a place where you will see it during the day. Collect pictures, certificates, diaries, journals, or any other momentos of precious memories. Even recipes are great to collect. Anything that can be linked together to tell your story. I have a cupboard in my study where I throw this kind of stuff in. What a mess. I need to go through, identify, and organize these items to make some sense of it all.
2. Get Inspired. There is wonderful media available that encourages finding out more about your own family. Shows like Genealogy Roadshow on PBS and Who Do You Think You Are? on TLC are great resources and offer encouragement
3. Put together your own pedigree. A good foundation is to be able to trace back four generations of your family tree. There is a great on-line resource to do this at FamilySearch.org. I have put together a chart a few times during my life, but always on paper. Just last week, I went on-line to start a four generation family tree there. What I found out was that I have a lot of misinformation that I need to clean up.
My daughter drew this for my in-laws on the occasion of their 70th Wedding Anniversary
5. Work Together. Ask other family members what they have learned about your family history and share resources. Don't let those family stories go down to the grave.
Working on family history is like putting together a puzzle. What a wonderful way to find meaning in life by getting to know those in your family tree. I'm excited to find out more about my ancestors. And no better time than Genealogy Month to get to it.
Have you done any work on your family history?