Dig into your roots and you could discover the story behind your family name. Exploring your heritage is interesting but it can also give you a better sense of who you are. Searching through your family tree could reveal stories about your ancestors and unearth relatives from different countries and cultures. Tap into your family members as well as free online sources and public historical documents for help with your search.
Talk to family members to get clues on where to start. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even distant relatives have stories that may include valuable information about your family history. Ask to see old photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, documents and for the names of people and sources that could point you in the right direction.
Use online sources. The Internet has made it possible to leaf through family trees and locate ancestors. Websites such as MyHeritage.com, Genealogy.com and Ancestry.com, offer free trial service or charge a small fee to perform in-depth searches on ancestors and family names. To begin, enter the first and last names of an ancestor.
Search public library and courthouse records. Look for birth, death and marriage certificates. Newspaper obituaries can also offer hints.
Get creative. Check church records, the archives of historical associations and, where possible, visit historical cemeteries for additional information.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images