Community Blog

Tracing Your Family Roots

By Michael Hagman, RN, BSN

Caregivers in Butte MT

If you’re like many people, you may wonder where you came from. What is your heritage? And what interesting tidbits lurk in the ancestry lines of your family? 

As part of your family caregiving routine, you may want to encourage your loved one to talk about the family history as they remember it. After all, it’s a lot easier to get a lot of information first-hand, rather than having to dig it all up yourself.

But beyond asking your loved one questions, you might actually engage them in the research process. They will likely enjoy reliving some memories and even learning things they themselves don’t know.

So where to begin? Here are some tips on the best way for you and your loved one to get started on tracing your family tree. Have fun, and be prepared to be surprised.

  • Record the memories of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, and other elderly relatives as you start exploring your family tree. Ask each relative about specific individuals and gather details surrounding their lives including nicknames, places they lived, vital information (including birth, marriage, and death dates, baptismal certificates, etc.), occupations, military service, and other important pieces of information. Ask relatives what they remember about their childhood key moments in their lives. Also try to find out if your family emigrated from one country or one state to another. If preserving those memories in their own voices is important, you can videotape or tape record their conversations with you.
  • Search your and your loved one’s homes for scrapbooks, diaries, birth and death certificates, baptismal records, family Bibles, letters, old photos, other boxes of memorabilia. These can all help to confirm the accuracy of what information you’ve been given, but also assist in your research. You can also ask other relatives for similar documents that you could have or borrow to aid your research.
  • Begin a family tree. There are plenty of places online that can provide templates for this.
    If you live where some of your ancestors lived, check with the local library and government offices, including a Register of Deeds office, for things like marriage, birth and death records, as well as old wills and property records.
    Find your closest regional office of the National Archives. There, you'll be able to search for your ancestors in the U.S. Census, locate immigration and military records, and more. The National Archives also offers tips on how to get started researching your family tree and offers free online access to some historical records.
    Search online. There are paid services like www.familysearch.org and www.ancestry.com that offer genealogical records from around the world.
  • DNA testing is also becoming a very popular way of finding out about one’s roots and ethnic heritage. Two possible sites for this are www.familytreedna.com and www.23andme.com.
    Researching your family’s history is a fun activity to do alone, but even more fun doing it with your aging loved one, who can add so much information to the search.

Source: https://www.usa.gov/genealogy

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring home care in Butte, MT, contact the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (406) 438 - 2231.