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Exploring Our Heritage

Updated on September 8, 2012

Getting to know ourselves begins with our heritage.

Exploring our heritage can be fun. We may find out things we are talented at are the same things our great grandparents were good at as well. Old family pictures or journals may bring interest to spark a new hobby.

By exploring our heritage we keep memories alive of people so deserving of our respect. These people worked hard to bring us a better life through their trial and errors. If any of their experience is documented, it could be something to save us from making more errors as they did. Some things never change in time and history will most always repeat itself somewhere along it's journey.

Genealogy Search

It has never been a better time to explore our heritage. Genealogy search is time consuming, but if you find things totally unknown about your family ancestry, your relatives will have as much interest as you do. They may be so overwhelmed with the information you dug up, they will offer to help you look for more or at least help you prove your findings. Recording information into a manageable collection will make you welcome their time. Even school children can help keep it organized. Their interest may bring on a new generation of enthusiast. In return the family will have valuable information to pass on to future descendents.

There are many web sites for genealogy searches. Some offer a free introduction period to begin your search. Others may have information totally at your disposal by nearly visiting their sites. The internet contains tons of useful information. Family tree builders and genealogy sites are not the only place to look. Towns, cities, counties and states each have sites where history can be found. Most of these will have cemetery, censuses, schools, churches, historical societies, newspapers and war heroes listed. Some universities have special sites set up for gathering local history as well. We only need to dig for it.


Talk to Your Elders

Pay attention to what our elderly have to say. Much information can begin with them. Surnames of our family origin are essential to tracing our roots. With a list in hand of the names grandparents tell us, we could save hours of time looking for them. Knowing what part of the world they come from gives us a good idea of where to look. Perhaps a story about their grandparents would be a good place to start. Most seniors will be more than pleased to tell you what they know.

The old family bibles passed down through the generations hold plenty of information. An heirloom of memories like a scrapbook or photo album can be a welcome treasure for a genealogy searcher. Some families keep minutes of each family reunion gathering. These records may include births, deaths and wedding dates much like a family bible contains. Genealogy search may be easier than we thought. I was able to trace my paternal grandmother’s family as far back as the Mayflower just by looking for free information.

Family Involvement

Building a family tree can be fun. It can be a hobby for the whole family to get involved in. The more people looking, the better the chance is of someone finding the right information. Be very careful to not be misled as it’s very easy to follow the wrong strain with so many people having the same name. Even when you locate an unfamiliar family tree, if the surname is the same the relationship will most likely be there someplace, only you may be many branches away from your link to the family chain.

Surnames often have spellings changed for one reason or another. Many variations of one name can have several spellings as those without literacy depended on others recording their names in schools and other places. If the pronunciation and spelling is similar chances are they belong to the same family. Our ancestors unknowingly carried these misspellings on down to the next generation. It’s difficult to say which variation is the right one.


A Project For Everyone

Projects like genealogy search have been of interest to people from all walks of life. It is interesting to find a famous person sharing our heritage. Most of us find it amazing as the information is unveiled. Famous ancestors or not, people from our past generations are remembered through us. History books should include the tasks of ordinary people like our great-great grandparents and if enough information on them is dug up it could lead to great story of our own to write. True stories are often the most fascinating. We may discover the talents and interest we hold in our own lives were passed down ages ago. Individual aspects to our unique existence began with them.

Senior projects that high school students are required to do for graduation have raised interest in building a family tree. The student will certainly earn a good grade when reference to the work they contributed is acknowledged. Hard work does pay off. This would not be a good project for those not willing to put in the time. But with the help of family members to gather information they have found, it could inspire a young person to pursue building a family tree.


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