History may seem like an abstract concept when you read about it, but it shaped the path of your family. Things like the world wars and political upheaval moved people to new countries, and are all part of the reason why you’re where you are today. However, time can obscure a lot of this information, so you may not know all that much about your family’s past.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to start tracing your ancestors. Read on to see some of the steps to building a complete family tree!
Look Through Family Records
Your first step to tracing your ancestry is to look through any family records you may have. Old birth certificates, newspaper clippings, deeds, and photo albums can all help you get a sense of who your family was and where they lived. These documents can also open up avenues for further research.
Of course, you may not have any of these records available. If that’s the case, it may make sense for you to hire tracing services to investigate your family’s background. A professional will be able to dedicate time and resources to find information that you would otherwise not be able to access.
It’s also a good idea to talk to older relatives about what they remember. Since they were around when you weren’t, they can point you in the right direction.
Tracing Your Ancestors Requires Some Research
Once you have at least the beginnings of an idea of where your family came from, you can start looking through public data for your relatives. The National Archives includes information on years of citizens and links to other sites that have related documents.
If you’re in the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission can provide similar information. Individual countries have their own databases that can also help. The Canadian government has a collection of data from the census and military service, for example.
Premium Family Tree Services
Of course, you can also turn to private companies that can help trace your genealogy. Some sites that the National Archives link to will charge a small fee but allow you to upload documents you find to build your family tree. Since you’re able to see what other people upload as well, you may be able to find information that is not otherwise publically available.
Ancestry is one of the largest family tree sites. They’ve also recently started allowing you to send in DNA samples to trace your history. This can provide other insights, like how your family tree moved across the world in the past.
Of course, the fee that these sites charge can be hefty, and depending on the record-keeping of your family and what is publically available, they may be unnecessary.
Start Documenting Right Away
Building a family tree and tracing your ancestors is hard because records are not always well maintained. That’s why it’s important that you start documenting your family as soon as possible. The more you preserve, the more likely the information will be passed down to future generations.
For more information about family life, check out the Lifestyle section of our blog!