If you have ever read Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, or seen the movie, you may have been struck by the odd way the character Harriet was treated. Because her lineage was not known, it was cast in doubt. Emma, the main character, chose to believe that Harriet could be a gentleman’s daughter as well as anything, and so she set out to form a match for Harriet that would better her situation. Others viewed Harriet with doubt. Who was her family? Because her lineage could not be traced, and perhaps more importantly, she had no dowry, she had little hope of rising in society.
Genealogy in modern times
Genealogy nowadays is more of a hobby, not an indicator of one’s place in life or social structure. For that reason, few people realize the positive emotional impact that comes with learning more about their family history. Though most (at least in the U.S.) are no longer defined or restricted by family, discovering one’s history can lead to a deeper, more enriched sense of self.
New technologies have made it so much easier to research your family history. With sites like Ancestry.com, you can find out not only your family tree, but your genetic lineage as well. Here’s a coupon site that’s offering discount codes on Ancestry.com:
Regardless of your reason, starting your family tree is easy and gratifying, thanks to the popularity of the hobby and research available online and elsewhere.
What is a Family Tree?
A family tree is a chart of names and dates, sometimes with additional brief details. The chart may look like a tree, but other formats are also available. The easiest way to begin is with one individual as the “trunk”, focusing on the lineage of one surname at a time. For example, trace the line back through one of your parents before you begin the other. A family tree can be as complicated as you wish, as filled with as much information as you wish to include and are able to find, though it may not always be perfectly shaped due to lost data.
In-depth genealogy involves lots of document gathering, photocopying, filing, and organizing. If you want a simple family tree, you may simply need to download a template online, print it off, and sit down with a knowledgeable relative or two for help with filling in the details. It’s important to verify name spellings and, if possible, correct dates and places for births, marriages, and deaths.
History at Your Fingertips
The Internet is the handiest research tool available. You can access the U.S. Census records from 1790 to 1930 just by typing in a name through subscription to websites like Ancestry.com or Genealogy.com. Join a genealogy forum for free help from other enthusiasts. Dig up documents through online databases. You may be surprised to find that an unknown second cousin has already been researching the family, a significant source of help for filling in the spaces on your tree.
Whether you dabble with genealogy or dive in, making your family tree will be a worthy pastime. Yes, your family may appreciate your efforts, but the person who benefits the most will be yourself, both for the discoveries and the journey.