Collecting Dead Relatives

My Grandfather, Earl Grant, in his police uniform

My Grandfather, Earl Grant, in his police uniform

Over the past 40 years of practice, study and research, I have become quite adept at collecting dead relatives, or to be more pc, genealogy and family history. Some people’s eyes may glaze over about now, but I guarantee you, once you have found your first missing link ancestor, you’ll be bitten by the genealogy bug and never look back.

Out of all the online databases out there (Ancestry et al) both free and for profit, the best by far is FamilySearch. Not only is it free, but it has the most comprehensive database, is very user-friendly and is daily adding to the materials available online. But before you visit that site, there are a few things you should do first:

1. Fill out a Pedigree Chart with as much info as you know

2. Fill out a Family Group Sheet for each couple on your tree (Pedigree chart) with will include the husband and wife and all children

3. Scour your home for documents, photos, diaries, scrapbooks that can provide information on your family.

4. Call, write, email, interview all relatives who may be able to tell you about your family. (In a later post, if there is interest, I can share ideas for interviewing relatives).

5. Now you are ready to visit Plug in the names you’ve found, and begin to be amazed at all you can discover! Who knows, you may even find your Pilgrim, or link to royalty. But even if you only find the horse-thieves and farmers, they are YOURS and you will gain a greater appreciation of your own life and who you are as you get to know your ancestors. Happy Hunting!

(And contact me anytime with questions if you want to know more!)


About Gail

Genealogist, librarian, writer, traveler, Mormon
This entry was posted in Daily Prompt, DP Challenge, Family, Genealogy & Family History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Collecting Dead Relatives

  1. I started this but ran in to a few problems. My grandfather was born in a Salvation army and had no birth certificate, his mom was Cherokee. One part was already traced back to Revolutionary War (DAR). The Irish group didn’t talk about it and none of the names are spelled correctly. And my great grand parents are from England we remain in touch with my great grandmother’s side of the family and know little about my great grandfather.

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  6. uddza says:

    Ah yes – it’s amazing how quickly the time flies when you are chasing elusive ancestors!

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  8. There are so many benefits to knowing and understanding our roots. Connecting with the stories that coloured our ancestors lives is part of the journey to self-awareness. Their emotional responses to historical and personal events is inevitably passed down through the generations, and until we have an understanding of this we cannot begin to properly address the dis-ease in our own lives or, to my way of thinking at least, fully appreciate our blessings. As well, it’s helpful and reassuring to know that a talent we have, i.e. writing, music, art, etc., has been passed down through the generations. It’s makes the connection to an ancestor in Germany in the 16th century all the more meaningful. 😉 … (For some reason your posts are not showing up in my reader. I’ll try email notifications.) Be well, Dorothy 🙂

    • gapark says:

      In 2005 scientists at Emory University’s Center on Myth and Ritual in American Life, studied family conversations and how they affect children.
      They studied children between the ages of 9 and 12 and those children’s exposure to family stories told by parents and grandparents. When they checked those children a few years later, they found that the children who heard stories about their families from the time before they were born were more secure, and had a stronger sense of self and better self-esteem. Knowing our Family History affects our sense of who we are, our sense of meaning, even about what it is to be human.

      • Thank you for sharing this article. It’s extremely interesting and speaks to something I have believed for a long time. In therapy much of our discussion as it relates to my well-being has evolved around my family history ~ how events, circumstances, people shaped the lives that came before me and how they in turn shaped mine. It can’t be escaped. Until we have an understanding of these things we cannot be free to be “ourselves.” And, of course, if we do not learn the lessons of the past we are doomed to repeat them. I think of the sins of the fathers passed down the generations and the decision I made years ago that the buck had to stop here, with me. There is no future generation for my family so I guess I, and the people whose lives I touch, shall be the one to reap all the benefit. Given my family’s troubled past I’m glad to know some peace in my heart. I’ve earned it. 😉 … Thanks for the conversation.

      • gapark says:

        Sounds like you are making the world a better place one person at a time–starting with yourself! I am surprised and pleased at how lives can be touched through this blogosphere–and other means. I know we are here on this planet to touch the lives of those around us and use our influence for the betterment of others. I’m glad to know you!

      • gapark says:

        Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you’ve made the leap to actually learn from the past–not something easily done. I’m glad you are now in a better place. G

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