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Genealogy - Your Family's Roots

By: Catherine Olivia

There is nothing as rewarding as tracing your family history, and when this task is shared with your children it can become an exciting adventure for them. It's wonderful when children can be told about great-great grandparents and this can help instill family pride. But, where do you start?

The first place to start is the most obvious, right in your own backyard. Talk with your mother and father, your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Along with some wonderful stories about family members your immediate family can be a great source of names. Every family has a box of papers hidden in the attic. You may find obituaries or birth certificates, birthday cards or letters. Perhaps someone has held onto an old family bible. These things can hold a lot of information on ancestors.

One of the first things that you'll want to do is organize all of the information you find. The best way to do this is to get a family tree chart to fill in. There are many family tree charts available online which are free to download. Whenever you talk with someone from any organization regarding your family's records make sure you write down the name and phone number of the person giving you the information so that if you have to contact them again you have their contact information easily at hand.

Once you know which town your grandparents or great-grandparents lived in you can contact the local historical society or courthouse for information on births, marriages and deaths. If you know what cemetery your ancestors are buried in a visit there can yield lots of information for you. Each cemetery has detailed records of those buried there.

There are hundreds of online sites related to genealogy. Perhaps you had a relative who served in the military. The National Archives has information on those who served in the armed services between 1775 and 1916. If you have an ancestor who served in the Revolutionary War, or the War of 1812, the Indian Wars or the Mexican War The National Archives also have what they call Bounty Land warrant application files that contain information on servicemen.