I doit was yesterday.
When I was growing up, I tagged along on trips to state archives and libraries while my mother and her sisters and mother were researching her family line. But my genealogy experience is limited to that and working here at Family Tree Magazinewhich, let’s face it, is probably the absolute best way to learn about tracing your family’s history.
With every resource at my fingertips (namely, every Family Tree Magazine ever printed and our Ancestry.com access), I started to get curious about my Dad’s side of the family. I know that most of my great-grandparents emigrated from Eastern Europe, but it gets hazy from there.
My first step (and probably the easiest) was using Steve Morse’s One-Step Search tools to see if I could find any of my great-grandparents on any passenger lists. After a brief period of believing my great-grandfather Stanley had changed his name from Wikenty after arriving, I realized that passenger records have two pages and saw that Wikenty was coming to stay with his brother Stanislawbingo. (Jumping to conclusions should be the cardinal sin of genealogy.)
I began filling out a printout of our downloadable five-generation pedigree chart with as much information as I knew. Armed with three of my great-grandparents’ Social Security numbers (found in the Social Security Death Index) and the requisite forms from the SSA, I mailed off requests for copies of their SS-5 forms, the application for a Social Security number.
And now I wait. With any luck, I’ll soon (soon being a relative term) know the real birthdates and birthplaces of my great-grandparents and finally find out their parents’ names. In the mean time, I’m really looking forward to the next time I see my grandparentsI have so many questions to ask.