Thursday, September 1, 2011

ancestors & genealogy how to's

I've been thrust back into the world of genealogy lately thanks to a recent visit with my Grandpa. It's pretty amazing the things you don't know about your family. Really. And really things your parents don't even know. It's fascinating. 

I've been diving into my dad's side of the family this week, which has been fun. His family was all very German and very wealthy- which makes it interesting. Here are some of the houses I found that my ancestors lived in {and some even built}:

If you look close on this one you can see a design on the chimney- I believe it's a WM- the initials of my Great Grandfather who built the house. Unfortunately it's not still in our possession, although that would be pretty great. This particular house over looks the Mississippi River in one of the best neighborhoods in the city.

This one is no longer standing, but it belonged to my Great-Great Grandmother. My Grandpa said he used to visit this house and was always scared to go inside- it was very dark and decorated with exotic things from around the world like tiger and zebra rugs... hmm.

Here's a four generation picture of my grandpa, dad, me, and the girls {and the twins of course!}

I also found an old album, and thanks to Grandpa I now know who everyone is in the photos.

My grandpa {the baby}, his sister and mom.

My grandpa's dad and grandfather- I thought the date was fun on this one, my great-grandfather {the man on the right} was the one who made the album I found.

And lastly, my {get ready}, great-great-great grandfather. That's right, whether you liked it or not you just looked at 7 generations of my family. I think it's pretty fun. 

And in case you'd like to do some genealogy research yourself, here are some of my favorite how to's that I've found helpful

Your most valuable resource are your older living relatives. Start with parents, and move back to grandparents and great grandparents if you can. Ask them anything and everything- first names and dates if they remember, and after that stories. Either audio record or write down what they tell you. It will be priceless in years to come.

{2} is one of the best tools I've found when researching. It's a great place to begin after getting a few names from family members. They have census records, ship records, marriage certificates- it's pretty amazing.

Your hometown library {or where your family is from} is also an invaluable resource. You'll be able to find out where your ancestors lived {by searching the city directories}, and possibly see photos of them. They'll also have all of the local newspapers on microfilm at your disposal. It's easy to find obituaries, marriage announcements, and other blurbs about your family from the newspapers.

Get organized. I'm in the process of doing this now. Once you get started in genealogy it becomes a whirlwind quickly. I've found keeping family lines separate is a big help, for example: my mom's side, my dad's side etc. and have a place to keep photos and newspaper articles. I'd suggest keeping a 'family tree' with your names and dates somewhere handy. has a brilliant online resource for keeping a family tree that's free, otherwise keeping it by paper works wonderful too. {In fact it wouldn't hurt to do both!}

Tomorrow I'll be releasing a few family tree templates for purchase in my Etsy shop. Stay tuned! 


I'm spending just a few more days tweaking the designs. They should be up by Monday, sorry for the delay.

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