By: Christine Crosby, Editorial Director, GRAND – The Digital Magazine for GRANDparents
Tracing your family history is an exciting, fun and rewarding thing to do. If you haven’t given it a try yet, jump in; technology has made it easier than ever. There are many online companies that make it simple and cost effective (if not free) to trace your family tree. In a few mouse clicks, you can publish your family tree to the Internet on your own family Website and share it with family and friends. Most programs can generate basic kinship charts and reports, and allow for the import of digital photographs and the export of data.
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship, which includes people related both by descent and marriage. Biology includes descent, mating and pedigrees of its members. The pursuit of family history carves out a place for one’s family in the larger historical picture. Some scholars differentiate between genealogy and family history, limiting genealogy to an account of kinship, while using “family history” to denote the provision of additional details about lives and historical context.
My grandmother was an avid genealogist. Through her research we learned that our ancestors first came to America from Scotland in the mid 1600’s; some fought in the Revolutionary War; and oh yeah, there was that great, great, great, great, great aunt who was burned at the stake during the Salem witch trials.
It is important to be aware that there are an endless amount of websites all across the Internet that falsely advertise the ability to obtain public records. Some sites charge outrageous prices or may display bogus or incomplete results even after you are charged, and may demand additional fees for the actual results. Therefore, be sure to use a service that is safe and reliable, and that comes from a well known and respected company.
Might you be the one in your family who takes this important step to ensure your kids and grandkids know their family history? To help you get started tracing your family tree, check out these family history sites: