Who Are You?

Why do you want to trace your family history? Does the idea unnerve, yet intrigue you? It’s all over TV, certainly. Who Do You Think You Are? has versions in Australia, the UK and the US. Finding Your Roots on PBS takes it a step further by working with DNA. Genealogy Roadshow, another PBS creation, takes genealogy from town to town, answering simple and complex questions for those willing to stand in line and wait. Not surprisingly, BYU-TV (a product of Brigham Young University and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, long-time leaders in genealogy and family history research) has Relative Race, a reality game show in which participant teams race to find relatives found through documentary research and DNA. And in our daily lives, we all know that family lore makes for fun storytelling sessions at reunions and holiday gatherings.

But what if you don’t have the raw materials of family history? Are you part of a family that hasn’t handed down its stories? Are you an orphan, missing a parent, adopted or fostered? Are you African-American, Native American, Latin American in a country whose records are by and for European-American people? Are your country of origin’s records not computerized, or difficult to find? Increasingly, there are tools available online to help you uncover secrets. It’s natural to want those answers, yet hard to come by them without expertise.

Sir Francis Bacon believed that in genealogy “consisteth a part of the knowledge of a man’s own self. It is a great spur to virtue to look back on the worth of our line.” Ancestors Alive! believes that, in order to go forward, we have to look back to know who our ancestors were. Their examples provide inspiration and strength for today and tomorrow.

Genealogical research takes WORK, discernment, and experience. Are you short on time? Are you afraid of the dedication required to use a basic Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org account, to decipher the implications of your genealogical DNA test, to use GEDmatch.com, MyHeritageFTDNA or DNA.land to find your cousins, or to answer even simple questions about your lineage? Do you want to accomplish a specific goal or produce a particular piece of research but you don’t have the expertise?

If you said yes to any of these questions, it might be time to find someone to start your research for you. Ask yourself:

  1. Do you know where your grandparents were born, or how they met?
  2. Do you know where your ancestors were 100 years ago?
  3. What part or parts of the world does your family come from?
  4. Did any of your family members fight in the military during any US war?
  5. Do you ever wonder why you have the eye color, hair color, skin color, talents and interests that you have?
  6. Do you think that your family is just boring, or just like everybody else’s?

Hmm. Still reading? Let’s start digging into your family history. Your answers lie in research-based genealogy, and possibly in DNA-based genetic genealogy. Get ready for some BIG surprises.

Ancestors Alive! Genealogy works with you, using online software, libraries, websites and archives. With information from you to begin our work, we can trace your family tree back for generations together. Results vary from family to family, but some European-Americans have gone back to the year 300 AD. Some have found their descent from European royalty. Others have discovered that they have early settlers, pioneers of industry and self-made success stories in their own family histories.

After working with Ancestors Alive!, some African-Americans have been able to trace their families’ military service in the Civil War, their ancestors’ migratory patterns during enslavement, their free ancestors of color’s professional lives in a world of white property ownership and laws, and with DNA, their distant cousins who live on the African continent today. Still others, of all ethnicities, have been surprised by their overall genetic make-up, and have learned deep family secrets about who they really are. Many have been able to push their lines back to Atlantic crossings in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Regardless of the specific findings, Ancestors Alive! Genealogy is here to get you started. Together, we will find stories, careers, goals, aspirations and even hidden truths about those who went before you. My goal is to set a solid foundation using online resources, going back at least four generations, so that you can pick up your tree from there and get hooked on genealogy, too. I do not perform DNA testing, but I will steer you in the right direction. I will teach you how to use documentary research online and in brick-and-mortar facilities, along with your DNA results, to find even more information than you ever thought possible.

If you live in Suffolk or Nassau County in New York, I can teach you in person, at a pace that suits your schedule and needs. And regardless of your location, I teach telephone lessons, also suited to your schedule and allowing for time differences. I can make the difficult become straightforward, and the forbidding become fun.

You WILL be surprised.

And now, I have a podcast that’s available on iTunes, Blubrry, Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spreaker, and just about any podcatcher that you can think of. It’s called From Paper To People, and in it I teach how to use Ancestry, FamilySearch, and other online tools and databases, and how to employ best evidence, best practices, folklore, and other tips, techniques and websites to find the most information about your family. If you join the podcast’s Facebook group, you’ll get extra opportunities to meet others, ask questions, and build community.

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