Trace Your Family's Heritage
Learn about technology like DNA genealogy that will help you trace your tree. Research the particular ethnic, or religious lineage you belong to and discover a rich history beyond just the facts that make up your ancestor's pasts.
Discovering your Swiss ancestors begins by researching previous generations who resided in the U.S. before moving overseas to find out where in Switzerland your family tree extends.
Researching the Russian branch of your family tree can lead to uncovering ancestors from multiple countries once part of imperial Russia like Belarus, Moldavia and Poland.
Do you have Viking ancestors that first explored and settled Iceland? Discover your Norwegian roots by using these tips and resources to delve into your family's past by researching records.
Greeks have an illustrious history and are proud of their heritage, although many don't know much about their ancestry. Learning how to follow the records trail of your ancestors is easier with the right tools.
Canada's documented history began when the French and British began to settle there, meaning that your Canadian roots could easily extend across the pond to England or France.
Have Portuguese ancestors? Whether they are from Portugal, the Azores, Brazil or other nation your strategy is still the same. Start with what you know and work you way back in time. Ask family members about the immigrant ancestor. In addition to asking for information like the ancestor's name, birth, marriage and death date ask about the name of the ship or what port they sailed into. From that information you can look for immigration records including ship manifests. Exhaust records in the United States such as naturalization records, military records and vital records before researching the country of origin. Once you start researching your ancestor's home country look for gazetteers to assist you in better understanding the area's boundaries. Make searching for church records one of the first records you look for in your ancestor's homeland. If you do not read Portuguese then you might want to use an online translation program or a Portuguese word list to write letters to churches and municipal archives.
Do not let all those L's deter you! A Llewelyn might be easier to find than you think with the excellent Welsh vital records available in English since 1837. Sometimes it takes a little extra time to get the lay of the land, but researching in Wales is not as hard as Gaelic sounds. Review our suggestions for alternative records and help with surnames.
Everyone has heard of Sitting Bull and Sacajawea, but could you be related to them? Searching for a Native American ancestor starts with learning about the white ancestors and where they lived. The United States government kept voluminous records about Indians through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and kept track of all 'the people' (Lakota means the people) it displaced with censuses. Additionally, individual tribes like the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) now have websites to help you. If you have always wanted to know if those high cheek bones were a gift of an Indian ancestor, look at our recommendations and follow the links.
It is just like the Scots who are known for their frugality to save and store their records for the thousands of Scottish descendants who are out there looking for their family. With the advent of the internet, these records are easily accessible to the average genealogy researcher. Finding your Scottish ancestor is simple and relatively inexpensive compared to a trip to Europe! Check out where to look and see our links and we think you will give a Highland yell!
Beginning in the 1600s, the first Africans were brought over to North America. American and Canada continued to import Africans as slaves for several hundred years, until those countries began abolishing slavery. During this time, many blacks in America escaped to Canada, only to return during the Civil War to fight the Confederates as free men. When tracing your African American and black Canadian heritage, you never know what you will discover about your ancestors.
Do you have Cajun or Creole roots? One of the first things to know about researching in Louisiana is that unlike most states, Louisiana is divided into parishes and not counties. While both groups trace their heritage back to French Canada and France, you will want to first use census records and church records in Louisiana as you start your research. As with any historical research it is important to read more about the history of the Cajun and Creole people as you start to reconstruct the life of your ancestor.
One of the most important things to remember in Swedish research is that, unlike English surnames which are consistent and everyone in a familial unit has the same surname, Swedish surnames follow the patronymic pattern. This means that male children's surname will be their father's first name and the word son, so for example Peterson is literally "Peter's son". Female children will also take on their father's first name but add 'dotter' to the end. So instead of Peterson, a girl in the same family would be Petersdotter. From 1686 to 1991, Swedish parishes had the duty to keep vital records. So to begin your Swedish research look for parish records.
Melungeons are a mixed race of people originating from the Cumberland Gap area of the Appalachian Mountain area of the United States. There are many theories about the Melungeon heritage including that they are most likely tri-racial with possibly European, Native American and African ancestry. There are surnames associated with the Melungons. However, just having a particular surname doesn't always mean that you are of Melungeon descent.
The Fugate family of the Troublesome Creek region of Kentucky is but one example of a genetic disorder, scientifically known as Methemoglobinemia. This condition is a rare blood disorder that occurs when there are excessive amounts of methemoglobin in the blood. Due to a recessive gene, some members of the Fugate family have a bluish tint to their skin. While the Fugate family's condition may seem extreme, most families have health conditions that are passed down. The Fugate family is a good reminder to note our ancestor's health history as we research our family history.
While civil registration began in Spain in 1871, some areas may have civil registrations going back to the 1830s. As you research, don't forget to look for church records. Catholicism in Spain has a rich history and Catholic priests have been recording births, marriages and deaths since the 1500s. Catholic church records more than 100 years old may be held at a diocesan archive rather than a local parish so be sure to check for records on both levels.
Searching your Polish ancestor's religious records is a first step in your family history research. As with any genealogical research it's important to start with home sources and interviewing older family members about the ancestral village and any other information known about the immigrant ancestor. Also consider variant spellings of surnames that will be important as you research so you don't miss out on information that may be skipped because that's not how you believe your ancestor spelled their name.
The years between 1880-1920 saw the largest influx of Italian immigrants to America. Typically those from southern Italy settled down on the east coast, New York and Chicago. Those from the northern region of Italy settled in mining towns and in Northern California. When researching your Italian immigrant ancestor, make sure that you have exhausted resources in America first. Search for immigration records, possible passport records for any trips made back to Italy, history of the region they settled and records from any ethnic membership groups or newspapers. Interview family members for additional information and family stories. Once you have exhausted American sources, jump over the pond and search for vital records and other records such as land records, census, notary and military records.
Prior to 1811, surnames were not mandatory in the Netherlands. That does not mean your ancestor won't have a surname prior to that date but there is a possibility they may not have chosen one. Civil registration began in 1811 but there is privacy restrictions placed on vital records. Birth records are available after 100 years, marriage records are available after 75 years and deaths after 50 years. Because there are some peculiarities about Dutch research, referring to a guide on Dutch genealogy is a must.
Research tools that many genealogists are familiar with like a national census are not your first step in French research. Instead look for vital records, which started in the late 1700s, and military records, many of which go back to the 16th century. Remember that prior to the French revolution, France was divided up into provinces, and after 1789 the regional divisions were called departments. There are 100 departments, all with their own archives. Because records are kept on this department level and the town level, it is important to know which town your ancestor came from.
Anytime you are researching ancestors from a foreign county, it's important to take into consideration that country's history, border changes, and name changes when trying to learn more about what records might or might not exist that would document your ancestor. The Czech Republic has been known by many different names historically including Bohemia to English speakers, then after 1918 the name Czechoslovakia was adopted, later to be changed again. As you look for home sources and interview family members it's important to ascertain what town your ancestor was from because for the most part records are kept on a town or parish level. Because these places may be misspelled, use a Gazetteer to determine the locality and spelling of your ancestor's hometown.
Because the Danish used patronymics for surnames, don't assume that the surname of your immigrant ancestor is the same as the precious generation of the family. As you start your research by using home sources, note any possible dates and a locality for your ancestor. The parish where your ancestor lived is an important piece of information for finding both church records and government records. One type of church records that can be of help is a moving-in and moving-out record that provided information about individuals and families moving from or into a parish.
Resources associated with an ancestors religion often can provide information from times when civil records did not exist. Knowledge of migration patterns, lifestyles, etc. of a religious group can aid in genealogy research.
Researchers looking for information on Mormons enjoy a wealth of resources, especially from the Family History Library in Utah and FamilySearch. Even if you do not reside in Utah, the research derived from these two sources can be accessed online or mailed to you for a small fee. In addition, a local Family History Center in your city may have the data you need during your genealogy research. The resources compiled by the LDS Church also include a lot of non-Mormon records, so even if you do not have Mormon ancestry, you may want to check out what they have!
According to Jewish tradition, Jewish ancestry can be traced to biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Whether you are interested in modern day or historic research, Jewish genealogy is an exciting topic to explore. There are many tools at your disposal, including websites, books, libraries, and more, that can help you to dive into this riveting subject.
Irish genealogy researchers can find a wealth of information on their ancestors, as most Irish immigrants spoke English. Looking through Catholic Church records can shed light on Irish ancestors, as many were Roman Catholic. Tracing your Irish ancestry can be fascinating business, with a rich and colorful history to explore.
17% of the American population reports Germany ancestry, with California and Texas being home to the greatest numbers of individuals with German origins. While the first Germans who came to America started in Virginia, there were many who also settled in New York and Pennsylvania. If you are searching for German ancestors, you will be happy to know that German-Americans are the largest population in the United States with a rich and colorful history.
After 1776, more than 3.5 million British immigrants arrived on American soil, settling throughout New England and the Great Plains. Americans of English descent comprise nearly 9% of the population, and thankfully, there is wealth of resources that can help researchers pinpoint their English family tree. Tracing your roots back to your English ancestors? If your family tree includes English genealogy, you are in good company.
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