Genealogy and Family Heritage Explained
What is genealogy?
In Greek “Genos” means “birth” and “logos” means science. Genealogy is the study to trace one’s ancestors, their cultural, chronological and demographical origins as far back as possible. Information collated includes names and the birth, marriage and death dates and locations of each generation. Genealogy is a science that studies and documents certain details of one’s ancestors. Research can be carried out by anyone interested in knowing about their ancestors or by a professional genealogist.
Types of Genealogy
- Ascending genealogy – is a search for one’s ancestors
- Descending genealogy – is a search for one’s descendants
- Probate/ Estate genealogy – is a search for a deceased person’s next of kin or heir
- Agnatic genealogy – is a search for the male ancestors
- Cognitive genealogy – is a search for ascendant and descendants who don't have the same last name
How to find your Family Roots
Choose an Online Genealogical Database
The initial step is to find an online genealogical database. The largest is Ancestry.com with over 60 million family trees and over 16 billion historical documents. Ancestry.com and RootsMagic both have companion mobile apps. You can access and edit your family tree, hunt for relatives and receive notifications from the Hints tool whenever Ancestry.com finds a prospective match to someone in your tree. Family members can also be added on directly from Facebook itself. There are a host of other features that the app offers.
Homes are Treasure Troves
Charity begins at home and so should a search for your family roots. Some of the best places to commence your quest is in the basement, attic, and cupboards of your ancestral or in the absence of one, your current home. Search in relative’s homes too and involve them in the process if they are interested. Homes can be treasure troves for photographs, old letters, journals, diaries, and other invaluable memorabilia.
Speak with your elders
Digitally record and document any information you garner from your relatives like people and places in photographs, stories passed down through generations, etc. The information you gather will come in handy when you need to refresh your memory or to later add detail here or there to your family tree. Generic data you need to collect will be about ethnicity and all-important dates (birth, marriage death) as well as their location.
Use online genealogy websites and information
Armed with all the information you’ve painstakingly collected, go to Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org or Archives.com. Browse any genealogical material they have to offer. From books to microfilm, microfiche to publications, the resources are endless.
Genealogy DNA Test
National Geographic’s DNA ancestry kit Geno 2.0 d Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA are popular DNA tests, which will provide an abyss of information you probably will not find anywhere else. Choose a DNA service that has a larger database of customers, offers free sample storage for later testing if required and online tutorials and support.
Get on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter and connect with relatives who you have been out of touch with or have never even met. They could probably help you learn more.
Identify and visit places in your ancestral hometowns like libraries and public archives where you can gather more invaluable information.
Save it for posterity
For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History by Charles Kempthorne and You Can Write Your Family History by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack are excellent guides to help you document all your research and findings.
Never stop searching
The further back in time you travel, the more ancestors you will probably find. If you have the time and inclination, researching your family roots can be an extremely rewarding experience. Writing your family history will help you share it with generations to come long after you’ve gone.
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