I Know You Are, But Who Am I?
So there you are. You’ve made it to Europe or South America or Africa or Australia or Asia, and you’re visiting the sites to see. Perhaps you’re at a museum or a castle or a fortress or a bridge or a plaza or a circus, and you’re learning about the people that have a history with this iconic landmark. You’re hearing about their lives, the times they lived in, how their fathers and mothers and aunts and uncles influenced them, bothered them, fought with them, and supported them. You’re learning about their siblings, their heirs, their cousins, their children’s children’s children. You’re realizing that there are stories upon stories about a single kingdom, empire, family, or person. You’re thinking to yourself, “We’re talking about people that lived thousands or hundreds or decades of years ago, and it’s just incredible to me that they can go so far back into the history of these peoples’ lives!”
And you think to yourself, “What about me? How far back into my own family’s history can I go? What kinds of stories are in my own family?”
Can you think of a good reason why the Windsors know so much about their family and you don’t know as much about yours? How about the Rockefellers? Or the Mings? The Bonapartes? The Millers down the street? The Johnsons next door?
That’s a question of genealogy. And everybody’s got one! But how much do you know about your own family history? And how much is there that you don’t know?
If you can’t go back very far, you’re not the only one. By far. Plenty of people get about three generations back and struggle to know about their relatives. If you’re interested in learning more about genealogical resources or just interested in genealogy in general, here are a few places you might want to start.
Read this guy’s article first – Great ideas for projects, online tools, research, and the delights of history.
Hit up The National Archives – Your guide to start searching census, military, immigration, naturalization, and land records.
Genealogy Roadshow – A great program from PBS. Get inspired by witnessing the realizations, emotion, and knowledge that comes from a genealogy project!
Of course, the best place to start is with the people in your family – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, you get the idea. Chances are they got some good information. I remember asking my parents about our family history when I was a student, and I was amazed to learn some interesting things about my family tree. One distant relative signed the Constitution, another was a Cherokee chief. My great uncle even invented Fiddle Faddle. These are the kinds of details that got me hooked to learn more about my family’s past.
Remember, we’re all unique. We’ve all got a role in our family’s history. How has your family tree gotten you were you are today? What stories will you add for your future relatives to learn about?