Researching The Family Tree
With all the news about the US Census lately, I got to thinking about how vital those records were to my own genealogy research project a few years back.
My mom can trace her Sicilian roots back more than five generations with names, birth and death dates, and other details. My dad doesn’t have more than a few photo albums and hazy recollections of grandparents he met a handful of times. My grandfather worked overseas and the family spent years traveling by ship from New York City to Istanbul or from San Francisco to Hong Kong.
A few years ago, I decided to try and help my dad fill in some of the blanks in his family’s history by doing genealogy research as a Father’s Day gift. Can I just tell you how addictive and thrilling it is to research your family’s roots? I had no idea hunting through the New York City’s Public Library–the Milstein Division of Genealogy–could be such fun.
I used a few websites through my local public library as well–many libraries have subscriptions to genealogy forums similar to Ancestry.com and there is no fee associated with using them. Census records were invaluable, as were several city agencies that provided copies of birth and death certificates a nominal fee. I also dug up several ship manifests that featured my dad’s name and the exact dates of travel.
Ultimately, I was able to create a fairly detailed family tree for my father’s side of our family. My search was made easier by the fact that my dad and grandparents were all born in New York City, records were readily available, and I could pop into the city at will. I distilled the information into a twenty-page narrative, took some photographs of significant locations in the city, and included copies of various documents for my dad.
Are you a genealogy buff? Do you have a family tree or have you thought about working on one?