Find Your Ancestor

About Our Freedom is dedicated to providing resources and assistance to help you document your ancestor prior to 1876. This includes the following eras: Reconstruction, Emancipation, Civil War, and Slavery.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Getting Started: Decide who you would like to trace

Are you curious about ancestors who lived during slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, or Emancipation?  Does you family have any oral history about this ancestor?  You will want to record and extract the details of those stories.  You may find them very useful very soon.  In my own research, the oral history interviews that I conducted and preserved have provided important clues.  I have been led to land records, census records, voter's records from 1868, Senate testimonies, wills, adoption records from the 1870's, and much more.  I will share my successes, and I hope you will be comfortable in doing the same. 

This is a great overview from FamilySearch that will remind you of the places where you can find information when you get started:

The Oral History Interview:

I found this tree in a beautiful park not far from my house. It's branches reach so far out, and they are very close to the ground. I could not walk under them. I wondered what this tree would say if it could talk.

My thoughts turned to the people in our lives who have been around long enough to give a perspective on life which we could find useful. They can help us to understand a bit more about who we are and what life is all about.

We just need to stop long enough to ask the right questions and listen. I have been very fortunate to have been able to formally interview a few such people. I have been able to find clues which helped me to discover the names and whereabouts of ancestors. I have also been blessed to discover how much I have in common with my forbears. Every time I get stuck in my research, I find someone to interview. I ask about names, dates, and places, but I also let the person I interview tell their stories. I record and transcribe these interviews because I find myself referring to them many times.

Even when my subject insists he or she does not remember much, they eventually are able to recall important details sometimes days later. If you do not know where to start or even why you should start, interviewing your oldest living relatives is the first and most important step. Remember that even second interviews have been successful in uncovering more information.

Need help with what to ask? Visit the following site:
50 Questions For Family History Interviews
See "The Oral History Interview."

You will find resources and helpful tips here on this journey.  If you have not done so already, fill out a pedigree chart.  Do not worry about what you do not know already.

Resource from

The next step would be to choose an ancestor who you would like to learn more about.  Fill out two Family Group Sheets, one with that ancestor as a child and one with him/her as a parent:

Family Group Sheet
What a great way to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the war that brought freedom! Next, we will discuss the greatest arsenal for finding resources to help you trace your ancestor.  Please share this resource with others who want to research an ancestor and do not know where to start.

1 comment:

  1. Is there anyone who can show me how to find out where my Great GreatGreatGrandfather or Grandmother is buried in the state of Georgia? Thank you


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     I actively promote useful social networking and genealogy resources. I currently am building communities and assisting others on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus.  I am a regular presenter at genealogical societies, libraries, and family history centers. Visit my website to learn more.

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