Understanding Family History With the Help of Online Genealogical Research
Looking into our past is how we humans gain insight into our present and our future. It is how we learn our lessons and prepare for the things that are yet to appear over the horizon. The same wisdom holds true not just to understanding why or how things happen, but also to understanding ourselves – who we are, how we came to be, the things that define us, limit us or by the same token, free us, can be grasped by tracing our lineage and ancestry through the intricate web woven by our family and the varied connections and interconnections our relations have made throughout the years.
Human nature dictates the necessity of relationships. No man, after all, is an island. It is this natural need that has allowed groups of people to build and strengthen bonds and ties – ones that are lasting and captured by genealogy.
In the past, it wasn’t easy to find your relatives. Records weren’t updated and documents were easily destroyed. Most genealogists found then that the best way to find information on your family tree was through microfilm. The most comprehensive bank of genealogical data, however, belonged to the Mormons. The members of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints believed in keeping detailed records of their family trees as part of their religion, and as such, many people back in the day sought their help in building their family trees.
Other sources for genealogy researchers include newspapers, funeral cards, and personal interviews. Newspapers, are understandably, easy to gain access to and are reliable sources of information. However, back then, search isn’t automated and there were no computers to assist you in going through thousands of volumes of newspaper editions that could possibly hold the information you need. Funeral cards, although more exact to the data you need, are only good sources if your relatives were able to keep them, and if they did, if you’re able to find them.
Personal interviews are good data mines. Interviewing living relatives often yield information that is of a personal level and holds more detail than newspaper articles or funeral cards contain, as it is more often than not a first-hand account whose reliability depends on the memory and honesty of the interviewee.
All these methods, though effective when combined, can be exhausting, time-consuming and expensive. They require significant investment in time, money and effort and can be a daunting task to a beginning genealogist, something that can easily discourage or beat neophytes off the track.
In today’s world, however, technology has made the search for our family’s lineage an easier task. Online genealogy systems are up and running, collecting records and files from primary documents to newspapers including obituaries and funeral cards, which are constantly kept updated, allowing researchers easier access to the data that they need in order to build their family trees.
Free genealogy search engines assist in helping people locate correct data by inputting names and known locations of relatives. These search engines also have forums where people who have signed up can post messages with their queries or comments, allowing other genealogists to help them where the automation cannot. Often, other genealogists who are working on the same name may come up and help, thus, easing the burden of the search by pooling common resources.
In this day and age, the way information is freely and easily exchanged has helped along the cause of genealogists. Through the constantly advancing technology of the internet as well as database collection and management, people have improved chances of finding their family and consequently in knowing more about themselves.
Indeed, the road to self-discovery may very well begin with that PC sitting on your desk, or that laptop you’re taking everywhere with you. You don’t need to start with a lot. Just a core of information and an internet connection, and you’re off on a journey to the past.
By Bill Turnbull
Bill Turnbull has been studying genealogy for 15 years and in that time has discovered the secrets to building family trees effortlessly online. For more great information on Genealogy visit Build Family Tree Online
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