Bringing Your Ancestors Back to Life

You’re probably wondering what I’m getting at with a title like this. Your attention. If you’re reading this then it worked. 😀

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I want to encourage you to add stories, photographs, anything you can to make your loved ones real to the next generation. Nothing is as exciting to me as a researcher as one of my ancestors with at least one good photograph. I love studying their clothes, guessing their height, and gleaning little tidbits of information about these people who I will never meet.

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The same goes for stories. I had a couple in my family who left New York for Minnesota on their honeymoon and never returned. The story was attached to their profiles on Ancestry.com. They just fell in love with it and never went home. It kind of reminded me of myself and my husband. We visited Alabama and moved here three months later when I was six months pregnant. I’m planning on attaching that story on Ancestry myself one of these days. I know sooner or later someone is going to wonder why a pregnant woman and her husband left Northern Virginia for West Alabama (that’s another blog post).

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    I encourage you to also tell stories to the younger generation. Make history come alive for them! Make it relevant if you can so it’ll stick with them. For instance, my mom was born in Germany after World War Two and they were lucky that they survived. Some of my grandmother’s family perished in the concentration camps. My dad’s father fought the Germans in World War Two. I remember these things because my parents told me about them while I was learning about them in school.


    If you don’t want to post stories online then please write them down. Sooner or later someone will be curious about where they came from.

Learn Your Family History

You may be wondering what you can learn about a bunch of people who died long ago. A lot! I joined Ancestry.com because it is easier to find and verify information. I have a notebook that I’m planning to fill with what I have found so far, eventually. For now I’m enjoying putting it online.


Just from census records you can find occupations, spouse, and children. You just need to know where they lived and when. Most of my Yankee ancestors are from Jamestown, New York which makes my job easier.

Death certificates are also full of wonderful information (I know that sounds morbid, but follow me for a moment). Most of them list parents of the deceased, spouse, and possibly a child. The cause of death can also tell you a lot about their lifestyle, occupation, hobbies, etc. For instance, I learned that one of my great uncles was a farmer in North Carolina. He died when his tractor fell on him.

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Newspapers.com hasn’t really helped me a whole lot, but some people have great luck finding information in old newspapers. I did find one story where a cousin of mine was shot in the head with bird shot. She survived for many years after that.

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A marriage certificate can also tell you a lot about a person. Did they marry for love? Was the bride forced to marry by poor parents? I have found the latter up into the 1970s. For love, well, my dear great aunt must have dearly loved her husband to become Rhoda Missouri Midgett. They had ten children so she at least loved one thing about him.

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Most states have genealogy departments. Some are more helpful than others. Give them a call and ask questions, you may get more information than you ever imagined.

What information have you found about your family?