Turn Genealogy into a Writing Project

Last week I became obsessed with a project for my husband’s family. He received a little more information about his ancestors from his father, and his mom sent us a list of names from her side of the family a while ago. He hails from Augusta, Maine with relatives from Pennsylvania on his father’s side, and Nova Scotia, Canada from his mother’s side. We thought he was mainly Scottish and Irish, but with a few days of research, and taking a plethora of notes, his ancestral roots blossomed as far as 15-18 generations from Germany and France.

Ancestry Quote

We are not sure they are all historically accurate, but with the creation of so many new heritage sites, families have become more interested in tracing their roots as far as they can. As more information is entered into these systems, we were able to cross reference the names on more than one site for accuracy. It is still not 100% positive, but with grave sites and recorded documents, a family can go deeper to find out the heritage that runs in their veins.

These are some of the sites I used that had the most accurate information:

You can search for free to a certain point, but unfortunately you have to buy into the heritage sites to access their documents on file and link to the other families who have started their own family trees with connections to your own. But with a little persistence and time, you can find a great deal of information with Google’s search engine, your local library or the city’s public archives. The most vital information will come from grave sites, birth, marriage, and death certificates. If you can accumulate dates and locations as accurate as possible, you can search using a full name (eg. John Adams Smith 1788-1854) and most likely more than one source will yield results.

NOTE: Myheritage.com has a family tree builder program you can download for free, that will link your family tree as you build it on their site and print a variety of charts. To sign up and enter your family information is no charge.

While researching my husband’s heritage, we found a relative that could be a very distant cousin who created his own website with his family’s ancestors and descendants. As he is retired now, he has the time to keep up with his kin, and he publishes an annual newsletter to share with the family to keep them up to date.

maine

Maine Museum and Archives. Penobscot River. Fort Knox State Park, Prospect. Old Fort Western, Augusta

Many people don’t know where to start, but our resources are unlimited these days with the technology we have. If you are a writer, know how to research well, and have this kind of time – what a great project it would be to take on. You could learn more about family you hardly know, while getting informed about elements of history during your research. My advice would be, to keep all your information organized and in a safe place, make lots and lots of notes, because it does take a lot of time once you get started.


 Written by: Donna J. Sanders

Donna is a freelance writer and blogger in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of Ataraxia – a poetry collection about the struggles we face, the state of the world and how to see beauty in the simplest things, and Cardboard Signs – poems to bring awareness about homelessness, mental illness, self-esteem and the injustices many face.

Find out more about her here:

 


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Photo Credit: © Donna J. Sanders

 

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