Are you someone who wants to discover more about your forefathers and their history? Do you have questions such as who they were, where did they come from, and how did they spend their lives? Do you want to research your family history for free?
A wise man, Marcus Garvey, once said
People without the knowledge of their history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.
Family history plays a prime role in our lives. Nearly everyone feels the need to learn about their bloodline. To do this you will need to gather information along the way.
If you love to explore and want to spend your time productively then this article is for you.
Genealogy research will make you understand your ancestors, their hobbies, interests like hunting, petting animals, and observing dog care if they were fond of dogs or their famous life events.
Some people though may not find it interesting to learn about their family history. This notion and perspective are somewhat wrong I believe because gaining information about your ancestor’s history does have many advantages.
Also, it is a fun and exciting activity that you can do by yourself, or even together with your family.
You will get to know your lineage customs, traditions, rituals, cultural norms, heirlooms, and the struggles through which your ancestors went.
1. Begin your research from home
The very first, and essential step, of your research, is to start within your home. Start by questioning your parents about your ancestor’s history, life, and experiences.
Make sure you take notes as each piece of information will help you to build your family tree.
You can even look around your home for certificates, records, photos, and family photos. All of these will be invaluable on your quest to learn about your ancestors,
Please check out my What Sources of Information At Home Can You Find? post.
2. Associate with relatives
Apart from questioning your parents and grandparents, you can also start talking and connecting with relatives from both your mother and father’s side of the family.
By doing this you can get even more information about your ancestors which your parents and grandparents may not know.
Please check out my Top 20 Family History Interview Questions post for some great tips.
3. Local library
Your local library can also play an important role in pursuing your research purpose. A library will have a variety of facilities that can help you find your family history.
There are many books present in the library which can boost your research. The history portion of a library can tell you about the area in which your ancestor grew up and worked.
For me, it is always interesting to discover the residence of your ancestors. It’s just another way for you to feel more connected to them.
Magazines and newspaper
Magazines and newspapers are also very sufficient in researching your family history. There are several publications available that can give you hints and tips that will help with your genealogy research.
As a side note, you may want to consider taking out a subscription to a genealogy magazine. These magazines are published by experts, so you know that your money here will be well spent.
You can even find old genealogy publications and local newspapers. At my library, I was able to take out a year’s worth of Family Tree Magazine where I could read them at home when I wanted to.
Some libraries have a computerized system through which you can go through all the old data of magazines, newspapers and, articles.
4. Online research
Online research is the most common and reliable method these days. And is also very accessible to all of us.
We can use our home computer, tablet, or even our smartphone to research our ancestry.
A Google search, (other search engines are available), can help you find your family history for free.
You can search Wikipedia for information about your ancestral and lineage history. If you have a famous ancestor then Wikipedia can provide you with answers.
In fact, it did for me regarding one of my ancestors.
There are plenty of websites online that you can use for free. You just enter your surname and place of birth, and then it will give you access to many family records.
One such free genealogy site that is quite popular is FamilySearch.
Social media platforms
You can search pages and discussion groups on Facebook and Twitter, (amongst other platforms). I personally have used Facebook to connect with distant cousins.
This tool has helped me to interact with my relatives where I have gleaned information that I could put into my family tree.
I must express that you should also share with your long-lost relative(s) information that you have accumulated. After all, sharing is caring.
5. Local document research
You can also take a visit to your local archives where you can look for your ancestor’s documents containing their personal information.
Data that you can get from these records can include their address, occupation, religion, and political status. among other useful details that you can use to build up a picture about your ancestor’s life.
Please check out the following two posts that I have written regarding archives:
6. Birth/death and marital records
It is very important that you collect the data regarding your ancestors, such as their birth, death, and marriage date.
These details will help you to build your family tree and help you to connect the dots between each generation of your tree.
7. Make a family tree
Making a family tree will show you what relationship an ancestor is to you. Family tree charts can show you who you have discovered and any missing branches that you need to discover next.
They can even be quite impressive to show off to your relatives, as well as friends. Like these Family Tree Wall Decals for example.
8. Family heirlooms
I touched upon this point before. In my opinion, it is essential for you to research your family’s heirlooms.
These are the objects that have been passed down for generations by your forefathers. They can be anything from letters, diaries, photographs, jewelry, work-related memorabilia, etc.
I have an old shaving mirror that my sailing ancestor used while he was lost at sea. You can even see where the salt air has damaged the mirror in some places.
So, ask your relatives if they have old family heirlooms that you can take a look at, photograph and record.
9. Medical records
Researching your family history will also provide you the opportunity to learn about your ancestor’s medical records.
It can give us information about the diseases we have in our genes. And this information can help you to take the necessary precautions.
10. Preserve information
As time passes memories get distorted. This is why it is important for you to record the data that you have collected
Once you have recorded all that you can then you can pass on that information to the next generation who can take on the genealogy journey.
My own family history journey began because I realized the importance of recording the many, many anecdotes and stories that my father would recite to me and my brothers.
I knew that if I didn’t record them now then they would be lost in time. Yes, I could recite a few of them, but over time dates, names, and places could get a bit fuzzy.
It was a pleasure hearing my father recount these tales again, and in doing so ‘new’ stories were uncovered that I hadn’t heard before.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
I hope you enjoyed this post discussing how you can research your family history for free. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
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