Article, March 2010
Finding Our Roots
by Constance Brown, President,
Canton Alliance Massillon Users Group, Ohio
The Memory Map, October 2009
constance (at) mystepco.com
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the authorís permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Finding our roots has become important to many families as they begin realizing that much of the past will be lost as those who have been a part of our lives forever begin to slip away. Capturing the information the older generation knows about our families, recording the stories of their joys and struggles, and discovering the strength that sustained them is an important part of preserving our family history. Not everyone has the patience to research their family roots, but those who do may find surprises along the way: family members they have not met in the past, ancestors who actively created history, others whose lives were an embarrassment to their families and society. When you research genealogy, you have to be prepared for it all!
If you are ready to find out more about your roots, the Internet offers an abundance of materials to help you locate information that will shed light on world events that shaped the lives of your ancestors. Other sites will help you locate missing pieces of the genealogical puzzle. Here are a few sites you will want to visit. First is FamilySearch.org, the official genealogy records site hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City.
Not only do they provide free genealogical software, but also a huge database of records including census, military, marriage, and death records. If you are looking specifically for death certificates, they can be found at http://familysearchlabs.org/. The records are for dates after 1908 & prior to 1953.
Newer death certificates can be found at the County Health Department of the county where the individual died or your stateís health department. The records at Family Search are free. Newer records typically cost $17.95. Family search also provides at no charge the ability to permanently archive your family tree, making it available for download or on CD.
Another of my favorite sites is found at http://www.usgenweb.org. The UsGenWeb project is developing as volunteers add information to the site. The amount and type of information for each state varies. If you click on Ohio, you will find each county listed. Under them is the information that has been preserved for that county. More is added regularly. I checked Clinton County where my paternal grandparents lived and was delighted to find the old Clinton County history book preserved and readable there.
Yes, I read about my great great grandfather Jonathan McKay! As I searched Vigo County in Indiana, I was surprised to find the newspaper obituaries for my grandmother Harvey who died in 1982 as well as my aunt whom we buried on Christmas Eve in 2001.
I found that watching Robert Raganís 5 minute Genealogy Courses was a great help. He gives a number of tips on how to find information about your family using specialized Google searches.
Here are links to some of his materials:
If understanding the political, economic, and scientific events that were shaping the times in which your ancestors lived, you will want to visit Googleís Time Line at http://newstimeline.googlelabs.com. You may also want to check through the lists of Google Books to see what books were read and shaping the lives of that generation.
Here are a few a few more helpful tips. Robert Sizelove has spent a life-time photographing cemeteries with a special focus on stones that are difficult to read and cemeteries that are not visited frequently. If you have pictures of any tombstones, he appreciates your sending them to him so they can be uploaded to the USGenWeb project and other sites to preserve these memorials.
To look at cemetery pictures he has collected, do a Google Search for Robert Sizelove along with the county and state name, putting both into the search box, e.g. robert sizelove stark county ohio.
Not all research can be done free.
One of my distant cousins works at a family history center for the Latter Day Saints. She has created 60 family genealogies and has researched and traced the family tree to 168 AD. The only site for which she pays a fee is Ancestry.com. Most other paid sites eventually send you there, so you might as well pay that fee. When you upload your GedCom file, Ancestry.com looks for possible connections to other uploaded ancestral files and places a leaf by the name on your family tree that may be connected to a name on another family tree. This feature allows you to expand your tree much more quickly than doing all the research yourself. Caution. Make sure the information you connect to your tree is as accurate as your own!
Another of my favorite sites is found at tribalpages.com. Here you can upload your tree, add pictures, create slide shows, add family memories and connect with others. This is a wonderful place to host the wealth of family memories. It is free until you have more than 50 pictures. At the highest hosting charge, you get 5,000 pictures and pay less than $60 per year. The site is amazingly inexpensive, simple to use, and very well designed!
Do you need ship lists? Here are a few sites to check. Ellis Island Free records of ship listsClick here to return to top
and Cindiís List: http://www.cyndislist.com/