Memories, photos and documents provide a wealth of invaluable family history information. Interviewing family members is a great way to learn about earlier generations and discover more about your family heritage.
Interview older relatives first. They may be the only people who know from which country or town your immigrant ancestors came, or the spelling of an original surname, or any name changes made over the generations. Unless that knowledge is documented before they die or their memories fade, then that information may be lost forever.
Storytelling is a great way to add details to your family tree, and interviewing a relative is a great way to start. To help with your family history research, here are some tips for interviewing relatives.
As a New Year begins, offering us a chance to jump start our research using every available resource, we are reminded that family history researchers need skills, according to MyHeritage's US genealogy advisor Schelly Talalay Dardashti. We may already have those skills but - more likely - we learn on the job!
Genealogists are strange creatures.
We live for the dead or the missing. We practically vacation in cemeteries - if we can discover where relatives are buried. We hope for the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of visiting “old country" ancestral towns and villages, wherever they might be.
We revel in bettering our investigative skills, similar to those used by detectives, lawyers or police, while piecing together the most complicated of puzzles, analyzing and dissecting clues, theories, stories.
“I can actually recall the moment when I became interested in my family history,” writes MyHeritage member Heather Alexander in Massachusetts.
My sister was helping my then-young niece with a school project. Our entire family was on vacation in historic Newport, Rhode Island, when she was going over all sorts of records in a binder she had for my niece to go through to figure out how to do her assignment.
I recall thinking "What is all this? I know I'm Irish and English on our mother's side, Lithuanian and Polish on our father's side but I've never actually seen the evidence. I've never heard names. I only know that's what I was told...Irish/English Lithuanian/Polish.
Heather, 37, was born in and lives in Massachusetts. Married with a daughter, 9, she was educated in public and private schools in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and is a former credit analyst.
Heather put off her questions for a while, but became curious to find out about those few stories she had heard as a child but didn’t pay much attention to. Her sister, the eldest child, is highly intelligent and would explain things in such complex terms that only another person with an advanced degree in history could understand.
I didn't have that. I would question her a lot, but I grew frustrated with not understanding her answers to my questions and the same held true for our middle sister when she would ask - she got confused.
With only one day left until we reveal the winners of the MyHeritage Genealogy Advice Competition, we thought we'd share a sneak peek of the many entries submitted through Twitter.
Remember, we'll pick two winners randomly to receive one of two one-year MyHeritage PremiumPlus + WorldVitalRecords subscriptions. You can also take part by posting your advice on our Facebook page. For full details and Terms and Conditions: view here.
To take part on Twitter, simply tweet your advice with the hashtag #MyHGenealogyAdvice. The competition will close at midnight (GMT) tomorrow.
Here is a look at some entries from the past 24 hours. The advice offered by our community ranges from the useful to the hilarious!
The recollections of family members, and the photos and documents they hold, provide a wealth of invaluable family history information. Always consider interviewing older relatives first as they will usually know more about the earlier generations of your family and, unless their knowledge is well documented before they die or their memory fades, then that information may be lost forever. Your relative may be the only person who knows from which country and town your immigrant ancestors came, additionally, if their family name was different in earlier generations, it most likely that your eldest relatives would know the original name.