Do you ever find yourself thinking you have hit a dead end with finding new information for your family history? If this thought has ever crossed your mind, you are wrong. You might have already scavenged through diaries of family members for information, but have you considered speaking with your family? Your living relatives: grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., are the ultimate sources of family history information. Here are a couple of reasons why:
Living Relatives are Living Databases
Most people don’t view their own family members as databases. It just feels weird to label them like that. The truth is, they really are a living database. Their brains are full of experiences from a long and grand lifetime. Think of all the memories and stories they have stored in their brains. There are probably enough experiences to write multiple biographies about one person!
Take the time to really think about it. For example, lets say you wanted to get to know your grandfather on your mother’s side of the family a lot better than you currently do. Now look at the network of relatives you have to work with to gain information about that one person. You have your grandfather himself, your grandmother, all of their children (including your mother), cousins, grandchildren, and the list goes on.
You don’t have to limit yourself to getting information of only living family members, expand your search to ancestors that your living relatives might have known. As you can see, you have access to a plethora of family history information for anybody in your family.
Everybody Has Different Experiences
One of the best aspects of family history research is the fact that where ever you gather information about an ancestor, you can find either new information or a new perspective on information that you already knew. Some of your relatives have had unique experiences with your ancestors and can provide new insights you had never known. These unique experiences will help you build a more accurate description and record of your ancestor than you previously had.
Not only are those unique experiences great additions to your family history records, but they can also help you relate to your ancestors better than any other source. Finding a connection with your ancestors is a powerful motivator in continuing your research for more accurate and interesting family history information.
Sure, you can always read an ancestor’s journal or find some other source of personal information to build that connection, but hearing experiences that your living relatives remember and value adds a lot more meaning to what you already know. Rather, it makes those experiences that much more personal. You will have a more complete perspective on events you were already aware of. In addition, you will learn more about that ancestor’s character and how you can relate to them as a person.
You Can Always Find New Family History Information
Modern communication technology has made connecting with others, specifically your family, as easy as touching the screen on your phone. The internet has given us access to information and databases around the world. Furthermore, there are multiple local, national, and international resources you can take advantage to further your research. Accessing these untold memories and recording them has never been easier, all you have to do is take action. No matter what stage you are in with family history, you can always find new information.
If you feel like you have still hit a dead end with your family history, do not fret. Here is another list of resources to aid you in your search. Keep going!
If you are stuck with your family history, take a look at our frequently asked questions to see if someone else has had a similar problem. If you are looking to make a genealogy book or to organize your family tree, check out our Ancestry Books and Ancestry Trees. Let us know in the comments below how your relatives have helped you with your family history!