Bringing history to life
A family history vacation can be more than just a research trip, however. If your itinerary allows, take the opportunity not only to find your ancestors but to learn what it was like to walk in their shoes. Museums and historic sites across the country re-create the past, from immigrant tenements to frontier forts.
These are among the many popular attractions where you can get a feel for your roots:
• Ellis Island National Monument, off New York City, which includes a 200,000-square-foot museum where you can re-trace your immigrant ancestors’ first steps in America. Note, however, that Ellis Island does not maintain immigration records; these are mostly at the National Archives <www.nara.gov>. For more on visiting Ellis Island, see <www.familytreemagazine.com/ articles/ellis1.html> and <www.ellisisland.org> or call (212) 883-1986.
• Colonial Williamsburg, in Williamsburg, Va., is the Disneyland of history, an elaborate step back into life in colonial times as it was on the eve of the American Revolution. (800) HISTORY, <www.history.org>
• Old Sturbridge Village lets you tour an 1830s New England village, with more than 40 staffed exhibits on 200 acres between Springfield and Worcester, Mass. (800) SEE-1830, <www.osv.org>
• Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, Mass., puts you in touch with your Pilgrim heritage. (508) 746-1622, <www.plimoth.org>
• American West Heritage Center, near Wellsville, Utah, is a new celebration of western history on 137 acres in the beautiful Cache Valley, 90 miles north of Salt Lake City. (888) 225-FEST, <www.americanwestcenter.org>
• Frontier Culture Museum, in Staunton, Va., re-creates American and European farm life in the 17th-19th centuries. (540) 332-7850, <www.frontiermuseum.org>
• Old World Wisconsin, in Eagle, Wisc, recaptures immigrant frontier life with 65 buildings. (262) 594-6300, <www.shsw.wisc.edu/sites/oww/>