365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: June 2006

365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: June 2006

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


1. Fluctuating county borders can make locating records a challenge. Look on your ancestral state’s USGenWeb site for historical maps that show which counties existed when.

2. Load up a tote bag with genealogical journals, magazines and other reading materials for relaxing at the beach, the park or in your own backyard this summer.

3. Consult your timelines to see when ancestors graduated high school and college. Study historical newspapers for announcements and exam-passing lists.

4. Celebrate your roots at a church’s or social club’s ethnic festival. Pick up a newspaper or community bulletin to find one near you.

5. The first of three WWI draft registrations took place on this date in 1917. Search for registration cards at Ancestry.com <members.aol.com/rayhbanks/cos.html> or Cyndi’s List <www.cyndislist.com/military.htm>

6. Visit a history museum in your ancestor’s hometown. If there’s no museum, look for local histories at the library.

7. Today’s the first day of the National Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Chicago. Not going? Attend a local genealogical society meeting instead.

8. Browse the resources in our online Ethnic Toolkits <www.familytreemagazine.com/ethnic_intro.asp> covering your family’s cultural backgrounds.

9. A pack-rat ancestor may have left an envelope or shoebox stuffed with old receipts for purchases, bills and bank deposits. Put on your gumshoes and find it.

10. Look for wills and estate papers of wealthy local residents. You may find bequests to friends, relatives or neighbors, as well as names of debtors and outstanding bills for services. Check county, state and federal courts.

11. In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert set sail toward St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he would found the first English colony in North America. Start exploring your British roots at <www.genuki.org.uk>.

12. Page through old address books for names of past generations’ friends and neighbors. Then look up the surnames in a modem telephone book and see if you can find descendants to call or e-mail.

13. Got ancestors who lived in orphanages? Start tracking them down at the Orphans’ Home Web site <freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/-orphanshome> and Cyndi’s List <www.cyndislist.com/orphans.htm>

14. Immigrants who applied for citizenship may have had to answer questions about the US flag. Today, Flag Day, investigate naturalization records—you can get a quick lesson at <www.rootsweb.com/~rwguide/lesson16.htm>.

15. Choose an ancestral state. Do a Google search to find its historical or genealogical society Web site, and look for publications, research guides, pioneer registers and more.

16. Study souvenirs, trophies, ribbons, pins, matchbooks and other memorabilia for clues to family members’ hobbies, favorite hangouts and social clubs.

17. Examine historical, topographic and road maps of ancestral locales. Then consult your research and see if you can pinpoint where relatives lived, worked and attended church.

18. Observe Father’s Day by focusing on your paternal lines. And don’t forget to call Dad!

19. Yep, it’s that time again: Back up your genealogical data.

20. Find a damaged or faded family photo you’d hate to lose. See the April 2004 Family Tree Magazine to learn to digitally repair it yourself, or consult a professional. Look for one in the yellow pages under Photo Restoration or Photo Retouching, and be sure to ask for references.

21. Use a relationship calculator or chart (you’ll find both of these tools at <www.searchforancestors.com/utility/cousincalculator.html>) to figure out how you’re related to the Internet cousin you met last week.

22. Sanborn fire-insurance maps—often found in genealogical and university libraries — can give you detailed descriptions of family homes. Learn how to find and use them at <www.lib.berkeley.edu/EART/snb-intr.html>

23. Use NARA’s Access to Archival Databases <archives.gov/aad> to search WWII Army enlistments, Korean and Vietnam war deaths, and other records.

24. Immigrant ancestors who weren’t naturalized may have registered as aliens. Submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service <uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/files/g-639.pdf>.

25. Virginia, which became a state today in 1788, was the first permanent English colony in North America. Search land, military, vital and other online records at the Library of Virginia <www.lva.lib.va.us/whatwehave>.

26. Turn your research upside down and print out a descendant tree chart from your genealogical software program. Note gaps to fill in.

27. Neaten up your desk and put away the papers languishing in your to-be-filed pile.

28. The assassination of Austria’s Franz Ferdinand on this day in 1914 triggered World War I. Borders in Europe changed, making old towns hard for you to locate. Consult maps and gazetteers such as those from ProGenealogists <www.progenealogists.com/resources.htm>.

29. If you help plan the family reunion, Family Reunion Organizer software <family-reunion.com/organizer> may be just what you need. Also see Reunions Magazine<www.reunionsmag.com>.

30. You’ve passed the halfway point for the year. Update and reprioritize your to-do lists and review your research logs.

From the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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