365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: December 2006

365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: December 2006

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


1. Organize the photos, documents and other files on your computer’s hard drive. Read the February 2004 Family Tree Magazine for help.

2. Examine your data for missing citations, then look up the sources and fill in all the blanks.

3. Today in 1818, Illinois became the 21st state. Search Land of Lincoln census, military vital and land records at the state archives <www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/serv_sta.html>.

4. Find historical maps of your ancestors’ hometowns using Map History <www. maphistory.info> and the Library of Congress’ American Memory Collection <memory.loc.gov/ammem> (click Maps).

5. Plan out the next edition of your family’s newsletter.

6. Cramming in last-minute deductions for your 2006 taxes? Consider a charitable donation to your favorite genealogical library, society or archive.

7. Discover ancestral state quirks—such as Delaware’s “hundreds”—in a Family Tree Magazine State Research Guide <www.familytreemagazine.com/stateguides> or FHL research outline (click Guides on the FamilySearch home page).

8. To find censuses and census substitutes (such as tax lists) for Colonial ancestors, run a keyword search of the FHL catalog on the colony name and the word colonial.

9. Debunk heraldry myths—and see if you really have a “family crest”—with the information at <www.rootsweb.com/-rwguide/lesson19.htm>.

10. Delve into the links on Cyndi’s List <www.cyndislist.com> that cover your research interests.

11. Indiana (which became a state this day in 1816) hosted only one Civil War battle, but 208,367 of its citizens enlisted. Start researching your blue or gray ancestor at state archives and the American Civil War Home Page <sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war>.

12. Pick five online databases you haven’t been to in awhile and search again.

13. You’re dying to see your ancestral village, but you can’t get there. Post on a local message board—maybe a kind soul will snap some pictures for you. Or search online for ancestral photography services.

14. “Alabama Fever” increased that area’s population 16-fold in the decade before it achieved statehood today in 1819. Read regional histories to learn about such mass migrations, then make an educated guess where your ancestors went.

15. Visit <www.icapgen.org> and <www.bcgcertification.org> to learn the meanings behind the letters you’ve seen after professional researchers’ names. If you need a pro, use these sites to find one.

16. Commemorate Hanukkah by getting to know your Jewish ancestors. See the getting-started guide, reference books and other resources at Avotaynu <www.avotaynu.com>.

17. Are you visiting or hosting relatives for the holidays? Prepare a quick family history summary to share.

18. Investigate the “hidden” Web: Search CompletePlanet <aip.completeplanet. com> on the term genealogy.

19. Update the list of surnames you’re researching and tuck it into your binder. Look them up in online databases whenever you have a few spare moments at the library.

20. Select a few unidentified pictures and make photographic copies (using your scanner or an in-store photo kiosk, not a photocopier) to share with relatives at holiday gatherings.

21. Search online telephone directories such as <www.switchboard.com> and <www.whitepages.com> for the surnames and places you’re researching—you might come up with a cousin.

22. Write in your research journal about the most extreme thing you’ve done while researching your roots. (Took a pillow to the library to nap in a carrel? Walked a cemetery in a blizzard?)

23. Back up your family tree data and print updated research logs and charts.

24. Record a Christmas Eve family tradition in your blog or journal.

25. Visit with family members in person or by phone.

26. Kwanzaa starts today. Find out the story behind its traditions at <www. officialkwanzaawebsite.org>.

27. Before hitting the post-holiday road home, snap some pictures of your childhood neighborhood.

28. Have a scrapbooking party-warm up leftover plum pudding and invite some friends to spend the day preserving precious memories.

29. Texas became the 28th state today in 1845. Don’t be afraid to mess with Texas research using the digitized records of the Texas General Land Office <www. glo.state.tx.us> and the Texas State Library <www.tsl.state.tx.us/search>.

30. Out with the old, in with the new. Sort papers into Keep, Toss and Undecided piles. File the keepers, delete duplicate computer files, reorganize e-mails and get rid of unwanted messages.

31. Think how far your family history research has come this year. What did you accomplish? How can you improve next year? Now go out and start your New Year’s Eve festivities.
From the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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