365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: April 2006

365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: April 2006

Make 2006 a breakthrough year for your family tree quest with our tip-a-day research calendar.


1. Celebrate April Fool’s Day by retelling a funny ancestral story or Grandpa’s corniest joke. Write it down to preserve the laughs for posterity.

2. You spring ahead and lose an hour to Daylight Savings Time today. Use what’s left to update your research to-do list.

3. E-mail’s great, but it’s rendering letter-writing a lost art. Write a letter to a newfound cousin or other family member.

4. Visit with genealogy advice columnist Dear Myrtle <www.dearmyrtle.com> to ask a question, read past columns and get on her e-mail list.

5. Build good genealogical karma by signing up to volunteer at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness <www.raogk.org>.

6. Prepare five to 10 oral history questions for a family member you’d like to interview. Call or write to set up a time to talk.

7. Look into attending the National Genealogical Society’s annual conference June 7-10 in Chicago (800-473-0060, <www.ngsgenealogy.org/2006chicago.cfm>). Act soon to save on registration fees.

8. See what research tips and digital images the University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center has for you at <www.ihrcumn.edu/research/famhis>.

9. Join electronic mailing lists that cover your family surnames, hometowns and nationalities. See the index of lists at <lists.rootsweb.com>.

10. Browse the Web site of your local genealogical or historical society (or one where your ancestors lived). Look for resources such as classes, publications, query boards and databases, and plan to attend a meeting.

11. Stumped by unidentified photos? Submit them to a photo-reunion Web site or to our Identifying Family Photographs column <www.familytreemagazine.com/photos/photohelp.htm>.

12. The Civil War began at Fort Sumter 145 years ago. Search the Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System <www.itd.nps. gov/cwss> and follow the links at <www.militaryindexes.com/civilwar>.

13. Passover begins today. Learn more about your Jewish roots by surfing the 350 Years of American Jewish History Web site <www.350th.org>.

14. Visit One-Step Web pages by Stephen P. Morse <www.stevemorse.org> and use the powerful search tools there to scour immigration databases, the Social Security Death Index, vital-records indexes and more.

15. Let’s hope your tax return is well on its way to Uncle Sam. Your ancestors’ tax records make good substitutes for missing census records. Use the links at <www.cyndislist.com/taxes.htm> to start searching.

16. Enjoy your family’s favorite Easter treat. Snap a picture of the dish and type up the recipe for a family cookbook.

17. Read 101 inspiring roots-seeking stories in Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak’s In Search of Our Ancestors (Adams Media Corp., out of print).

18. A great earthquake struck San Francisco just after 5 a.m. 100 years ago. Peruse historical newspapers to find out more about this and other disasters your ancestors lived through.

19. Castle Garden was New York City’s first immigration center, processing more than 8 million passengers from 1850 through 1890. Search a free passenger database at <castlegarden.org>.

20. You’re perfectly law-abiding, of course, but an ancestor may have done some jail time. Get hints on researching court and institutional records from the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists <blacksheep.rootsweb.com>.

21. Visit your FHC to view the microfilm you ordered in January. Take the opportunity to search Ancestry Library Edition, HeritageQuest Online <www.heritagequestonline.com> and other subscription Web sites for free.

22. Subscribe to the free, biweekly Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update newsletter <www.familytreemagazine.com/newsletter.asp> for genealogy news and research tips.

23. Today is Easter in the Eastern Orthodox religion. Focus on your ancestors’ church records — see the February 2004 Family Tree Magazine for guidance.

24. Visit the Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies Web site <www.feefhs.org> (especially the map room) to dig up your roots in Central and Eastern Europe.

25. Search for your surnames in the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to thousands of genealogical journal and magazine articles back to the 1700s. It’s available through Ancestry.com’s US Records Collection subscription and HeritageQuest Online, which many libraries offer free remote access to.

26. Note your brick walls. Identifying research roadblocks on paper can help you think through steps for smashing them to bits.

27. Search for transcriptions of your ancestors’ gravestone information on Interment.net <www.interment.net>. See Cemetery Junction <www.daddezio.com/cemetery> for more links.

28. Use Google to search RootsWeb: Go to <www.google.com> and type your search term plus <site:rootsweb.com>.

29. Share your discoveries. Have you identified a mystery photo or found your great-great-grandfather’s military record? Send a copy or scan to a relative.

30. Organize your obituaries and funeral cards. Sort them by family, alphabetize them and place them in clear sheet protectors (the ones made for baseball cards work well).
From the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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