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OTHER ITA SITES:
American Family History
When delving into an American Family History, there are certain advantages and certain disadvantages to learning about the people who immigrated to a new country in the New World. There are usually a great many records of the people once they are in America, but collecting an American family history can often be difficult for certain regions and can be more difficult for learning about families before they left their native lands.
When assembling an American family history, the first place to start is, of course, with the still-living relatives. They can provide a wealth of information about one's ancestors. As they have memories of parents, grandparents, and sometimes even great-grandparents, they can offer names, a few descriptions, and perhaps some memoirs and memorabilia. Your surviving ancestors are an excellent place to start your investigations into the history and people of your family. And these living links to the people and places of bygone years can often provide you with important research materials and memoirs that will get your search off to a roaring start.
Next, it is time to check government records. These can be a wealth of knowledge about names, dates, places, and times of death and birth for your American family history. With birth records listing the names of people and the names of their parents, your search can expand both upwards and outwards. With the names of parents, you will be able to learn the names of their other children. And with records of death, one can learn where these people wound down the remainders of their lives.
However, birth and death records are not the only records that can add information to your American family history. There are also deeds, land grants, court papers, patent records, copyrights, and, of course, immigration papers. These are very important for delving into your family history, as they will allow you to understand who these people were and where they lived. With each little piece of information, you can start to develop a picture of your family, its history, where it went and how it got there.
Unfortunately, there are going to be some difficulties when trying to assemble an American family history. This is particularly true in families of African descent whose ancestors were sold as slaves. The record keeping was often rather thin both during and after the years of slavery. And attempting to learn where the original members of your family came from is next to impossible. Sub-Saharan Africa is a very large place.
As well, for almost any family the record-keeping in the rural South and Appalachia was thin at best. Often, the records do not exist at all. Attempting to find information about your family, even births and deaths, can be like trying to grab the brass ring on a merry-go-round with your eyes closed. For families such as these, your family members will be of much more use than government records when compiling an American family history. With a few memoirs you can piece together some information. But many times the data will be rather loosely conjectural.
As well, another difficulty with collecting and American family history is figuring out anything about your family before it immigrated. Many immigrants arrived with only a suitcase and the clothes on their backs. Some did not even have the suitcase. Thus, their arrival was a clean break from distant lands to start an entirely new life here in America. Learning anything about your ancestors in the home country is difficult when one tries to look back through the murky past.
Though compiling an American family history can be difficult at times, it is far from impossible. With a little time, a little tenacity, and a few bits of luck that can arise with consistent effort, you can construct a picture of your ancestors that will find a place of pride amongst your heirlooms. So feel free to start your investigations and learn just where your name came from and how it eventually ended up with an entirely unique treasure: you.
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