Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thoughts about Searching for My Ancestors

I've been watching the Faces of America series. I think it's wonderful that genealogy has become popular and that people are interested in knowing about their ancestors.

As I was watching the
4th program in the series last night I pondered the question: What if someone handed me 6 or 8 generations of my genealogy? How would I feel? What would I think?

My first thought was - how exciting!

And then I thought about all I've learned about my ancestors because I've been searching for my them myself:

> I've become acquainted with them them and learned something about the lives they lived. By learning about the times in which they lived, I can place them in context of their environment.

> I know, to some extend, their occupations.

> I recognize the names of their neighbors and community members from having looked at page after page of census returns, birth/marriage/death transcriptions, and cemetery inventories.

> I know the names and ages of other family members and who else lived in their home with them, whether the children attended school or worked, and whether the parents could read and write.

> I know things that were important to the community from having read the same newspapers accessible to my ancestors.

> I know the stores where they might have shopped and the clothes they might have worn.

> I know where they buried their dead.

> And so much more.

I also think I've grown to love my ancestors as I've searched for them. After all, they are not just names and dates, but individuals with lives - my foremothers and forefathers, foreaunts and foreuncles. I have some of their blood running through my veins.

I would have missed learning these things about my ancestors if a genealogy had been handed to me. Now if Faces of America, or anyone else, wants to help me with a brick wall now and then, I'd be grateful. But as for the real searching, I'll do it myself, thank you.

How about you? Would you like to have your genealogy handed to you? What are some of the things you've learned in the search for your ancestors?

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.


  1. I focus on the 19th century because most of my ancestors further back than that were in New England and have been fairly well researched. The New England ancestors were exciting at first - it was very exciting the first time I found and ancestor in a history book. However simply verifying information compiled by others is drudgery for me rather than fun.

    Great topic!

  2. I somehow find it difficult to believe that they were able to trace someones ancestry back to Charlemagne...or even King John. I would really like to know how they did that, when I have trouble finding where my husbands second great grandfather was living in 1880.

  3. There are books and websites with lists of colonial settlers with royal lineages. If you find one of these settlers, then the rest of the ancestry is "handed to you" (on a silver platter, LOL!) The fun part is doing all the work down to one of those privileged few, but the rest isn't so fun because it's been "done."

  4. Sometimes it is better to do it yourself! I will probably never get that far back, but what I do find will be great!!


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