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Genealogy - One's Family History

Date Added: July 06, 2008 07:33:53 PM
Category: Genealogy

Genealogy - One's Family History
By Michael Russell

Genealogy is the study of who is in a family and whom they are related to. The more general study of family history will also try to determine important information about their lives and deaths such as dates of birth and death and employment records. Genealogy has existed since ancient times. Genealogical information was originally transmitted orally and later, through written records. Genealogy was vital in determining the ancestry of rulers and nobles. Detailed genealogical records ensured that the passing down of titles would be done without error. Genealogists helped people displaced by World War II find family members who remained in Europe. Many Irish families used genealogical records to help rediscover family members that have been separated for two or three generations since their families emigrated from Ireland. James Dent Walker founded the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society in 1977. He aided Alex Haley with his book Roots. This book inspired many African Americans to search for their ancestors.

Major events in a person's life are usually recorded and stored at a local, regional or national office. Genealogists locate these records and use them to determine family relationships and recreate timelines. Genealogists generally start from the present and work backward in time. Genealogists may also conduct interviews with living relatives to determine the same information. The success of a genealogist may depend on the volunteer efforts of complete strangers. There are many helpful message boards that will help you find people with particular surnames or who lived in a particular region. Many genealogists contribute their free time and participate in projects such as preparing name indexes for records and placing them online. Other genealogists can then use the name indexes to find these records. There are other projects that transcribe records so that genealogists can find records based on something other than a name. For example, there are projects that transcribe deeds, which allows for searches by land description. You may also look for help from the thousands of genealogical societies around the world. These societies are generally focused on a particular surname, geographic area, or ethnicity. Most of the people who work at these societies are volunteers. These societies have large amounts of genealogy material. They may also publish a newsletter, provide research assistance to the public and offer classes in genealogy. There are two other useful genealogical resources: International Genealogical Index (IGL) and DNA analysis.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints copied most of their available genealogical records onto microfilm. An important part of the Mormon faith is tracing their family history, so there are a lot of records. This resulted in the creation of the IGL. The IGL contains hundreds of millions of records of people that lived between the 1500s and 1870s. These records can be viewed at the Family History Library, which is their main library, in Salt Lake City, Utah. They can also be viewed at the more than 4,000 Family History Centers located near their churches. If you prefer the Internet, then you can view the IGL as well as the Ancestral File, 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Social Security Death Index, Salt Lake City Library Catalog and some American Army Indexes to those who died in the Korean and Vietnam wars on the website FamilySearch. This is especially useful because you can do multiple searches for names, parishes, dates, etc.

DNA analysis has proven to be useful to the field of genealogy because the DNA from your earliest ancestors will be passed down relatively unchanged. A genealogical DNA test can estimate the probability that two people are related. The Molecular Genealogy Research Project is a collection of genetic test results that will be used to match people descended from a direct ancestor. The Genographic Project is a collection of results that can be used to trace human migratory patterns and to determine biogeographical and ethnic origin.

Michael Russell
Your Independent Guide to Genealogy

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