Why does finding your family history have to be so hard?

[deleted account] ( 4 moms have responded )

I don't know about anyone else but last time I was at the doctor she got me thinking about my family history; which in turn got me interested in putting together a family tree to not only satisfiy my curiousity but for my daughter as well. My husband never talks about his family so he's not help there but I've noticed with my side of the family that it's harder then it should be. My grandmother's side of the family changed the original spelling of their last name to make it more american and now I'm stuck with ZIP on her side were as I'm finding out that my grandfather's side of the family LOVES TO HOLD GRUDGES. I've contacted someone because their family tree popped up in EVERY search I did on my great grandfather only to get the response of: "Oh your so and so's granddaughter? Well we don't talk to that side of the family because of his marriage to so and so (my grandmother)." Ummm......okay.

So I made a promise to my daughter....I WILL NEVER EVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT TO HER....I will try to keep the peace between my husband and his side of the family the best I can so she does not get any of the back lash that I'm finding with my own family. AND I WILL NOT FUDGE any documentations dealing with my age, birthdate, etc. like my grandmother did....we actually think her father fudged her birth year when they migrated over here from europe on accident when he filled out a SS card the first time because we have two birth years for her......the one on her death certificate is the correct one according to my great aunt.

Sigh....why does researching family history have to be so hard if we have websites that have put all these records into one place for us? Oh did I mention the nightmare of the over seas records when it comes to my mom's side of the family.......those records all start in Ireland.


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[deleted account]

Hi Sharon, I worked for many years as a reference librarian, and family history queries were very popular, though I'm not a genealogist. Of course, when you have grudges and mix-ups etc, it make it more challenging, but more interesting too! Record-keeping wasn't always very good, either.

I have a few suggestions. The obvious one is to consult a professional genealogist - look in the phone book) but they can workout quite expensive. Your local library is probably a good source of information. Libraries can be useful, too. The library in which I worked had a very big family history section. I don't know your library system, but ask at your local library. They will probably have access not only to indexes in your state, but other states as well. Tell the librarian what you are doing and if he/she can't help you directly, they'll probably have some good suggestions.

Archives - state or federal or both - are major sources of information. I'm currently doing some voluntary work at the Immigration museum, here in Melbourne, which concerns itself with people arriving as immigrants to Australia. There might be something similar in your state/country.

This is a really great beginner tutorial, prepared by the State Library of Tasmania, where I used to work:
http://www.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/famil... Bear in mind that this is Australian, specifically Tasmanian, so not everything will be relevent to you, but some information might be useful.

http://www.cyndislist.com/ is a very popular site - you've probably heard of it. Unfortunately, it's not very user-friendly, but it's very comprehensive.

This site is an overview of genealogical sites:

Sorry, I know I've raved on, but I enjoy family history! Basically, you need to talk to everyone you can. If people can't/won't give you any information, then you'll have to find out via other methods, like birth, death, marriage records etc. The main thing to remember is that you always start with yourself and work backwards! And enjoy it, it's fun!

Good luck with your detective work!!

Iridescent - posted on 04/17/2010




Ours is a huge twisted mess. My mom was adopted so we only know her biological mother's name, not her fathers. Of course, that record is sealed and is one of the few that will never become unsealed for any reason whatsoever. My great grandfather was also adopted after he became an orphan, so we're missing a lot of family history there. We also have a lot of foster/adopted/step/half relatives and they're really just as important.

When we found out my daughter has a genetic defect we did all we could to get the family health history together. We've tracked the health problems, but still don't have the correct diagnosis and the doctors are still looking. My grandmother had made a family tree, and a cousin went to Norway and got as far back as we could (into the 1400's, so much further back than we really needed! on some branches), where other branches disappear within 1 generation. Now we have health history on parts of it - things of note - for a few generations back as well.

Sharon - posted on 04/17/2010




All I can do is agree that its a nightmare. At least yours is written in western letters. lol half of mine is japanese.. ugh Of course I don't read japanese....

Kathy - posted on 04/17/2010




Families-aren't they great. Then to start climbing the family tree. You opened a whole can of worms. My husband's family is great at the grudge holding. Whatever. Let them do that-I think they all love the drama and misery. I have a family tree of my father's side and we are just got one for my husband's father which is awesome. His last name was also change through the years. Luckily some distant realitive is all into genealogy and did the work. We are going to email him with what we have that is up-to-date. I would also like to update my father's side. My mother was adopted so we have a baby tree that starts with her. LOL We could intertwine it with her adopted family but then that is a forest that just terrifies me to try to do the geneology on. The most important part of family for my children is the good of the family they know. They know the bad but we accept that and concentrate on the good because what family we have with us here and now is what is important. The distant relatives-nice to know they are out there but rather take the time to stay close to my neice. Good luck delving into your family's past and remember their mistakes are not yours.

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