Preserving Your Family History
Your story is important. Family history is your story, at least a big part of it. Your story has a foundation. Perhaps it is time to put that foundation into writing so future generations will have a greater understanding of their foundation. If you haven’t done this before or you did years ago, it is time to revisit your family tree.
Genealogy is one of the top hobbies across all age groups. It is a perennial favorite activity. Personally, I spend time almost every day researching some part of my family’s history. I have looked into my own family and my husband’s. I am yet to find any famous or notables among my own, but my husband has claim on a number of passengers on the Mayflower voyage to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. Regardless of the notoriety of your ancestors, each person is an important link to who you are today. Just think, if any link in the chain had been broken, you would not be here today.
Time for the First Steps
Where do you begin this journey of discovery? Begin with yourself. What do you need to get started? Pen and paper. That is really all you need. Record the basic information about yourself that future generations will surely want to know. When and where were you born? If you married, answer the questions who, when, and where. Who were your parents? Do you know when and where they were born? If they have passed away, where and when did that happen? How many generations can you go back just from your own knowledge?
Once you have written down the generations going backward in time, can you remember your parent’s brothers and sisters and their children or your grandparents’ brothers and sisters and so on? Jot down whatever you can remember. Gather any documents you can think of: birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, etc. Perhaps you are the keeper of the family Bible passed from generation to generation. Find it! Record the info you find there.
Where do you record all of this information? The best place to start in a Pedigree Chart.
This is just step one of an adventure, that I will warn you, may become an obsession. Just ask me how I know about that. It is a fun adventure that will lead you to many interesting discoveries.
Here is a blank pedigree chart to help you see what info you can start with. You do not need to know all of the answers to get started. Fill in what you can. The second one is a 5 generation pedigree chart for my husband’s great grandfather, Ralph Blake. The more I find out about this amazing man, the more I want to know. He was a dentist and an inventor. His office was in Time Square at the turn of the 20th century. He is just one fascinating character in the history of my husband. Family history is an adventure!
One of the best places to learn how to climb your family tree is NEHGS, New England Historic and Genealogical Society. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the NEGHS has many online records and learning guides.
I can’t wait to hear who your most interesting characters are. Please be sure to share with us!