Families Trees in Full Bloom: As the Web Opens Access to Information, Genealogy Has Never Been More Popular. (Life)

By Goff, Karen Goldberg | Insight on the News, December 31, 2001 | Go to article overview

Families Trees in Full Bloom: As the Web Opens Access to Information, Genealogy Has Never Been More Popular. (Life)


Goff, Karen Goldberg, Insight on the News


Julanne Myers has been putting together a puzzle for more than 20 years. The branches of her family tree start in England and stretch to Virginia. It has taken hundreds of hours of research, but Myers has found grandparents and great-grandparents, ordinary and infamous, settlers at Jamestown and pilgrims from the Mayflower.

"Genealogy is geometric," Myers says. "You start with two parents and four grandparents, then you have eight great-grandparents and pretty soon you find there are 20,000 people you are related to. This hobby is all a big puzzle and a great mystery. But you can't do the edges of the puzzle first. It takes time to get there."

Most Americans are immigrants, whether from 17th-century Scotland or the Ivory Coast or a Polish village. For those trying to find out exactly when Grandma came through Ellis Island, or where Great-Grandpa was married, access to information never has been easier, thanks to the Internet. Genealogical Websites give novices pointers on how to get started and maps to show the towns from which relatives came. They even enable researchers to call up vital records and share information with other genealogists.

"In the past, when a genealogist was searching for information on a given ancestor, it would take years to exhaust all the records," says Rhonda R. McClure, a Florida genealogist and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy. "Using the Internet means genealogists can search out leads to their ancestors in a much easier and faster fashion. Genealogists are in communication with each other like never before."

Genealogists still need to visit libraries and historical societies. Records typically found online are abstracts, summaries and databases rather than images of the original documents. Accurate records need documentation, McClure notes. "It is still important that primary documents are investigated, which can only be done by viewing microfilm."

Some 120 million Americans have expressed interest in finding out more about their roots in the last five years, according to Maritz Marketing, a research firm. Whether that means punching your surname into a search engine or spending hours in the stacks at the Library of Congress, genealogical interest has grown by one-third since 1995.

"Part of the appeal is that connection is very important," Myers says. "We all want to believe we are part of something, especially since September 11. We are all Americans. We all came from someplace else. That doesn't make you any less American."

The best way to begin is to talk to living family members, says Kory Meyerink, a professional genealogist in Salt Lake City. It may be helpful to tape or videotape your interview. Even if some people have forgotten exact details, asking more specific questions may get relatives, particularly elderly relatives, talking about family memories. Instead of asking general questions such as, "Tell me about your childhood," ask what Christmas was like the year of the big blizzard or what Grandma made for Sunday dinner. Specifics like that may jog memories of people they have not thought of in years, McClure says.

The next step is to fill out a genealogical chart, using as many names and dates as possible. Start with the generations closest to yours. Documentation will verify that the relatives you find are, indeed, your relatives -- birth certificates, for instance, and marriage certificates. Obtaining official documentation usually will cost money. All states charge for copies, usually between $10 and $30.

"Genealogy is as expensive or as inexpensive as you want it to be," says Bonnie Ferguson Butler, a Virginia woman who has traced her roots and those of her husband back several centuries. She counts 550 ancestors for her young son, Jasper.

"My great-grandmother always said she had one grandfather who fought for the South in the Civil War and the other fought for the North," Butler recalls. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Families Trees in Full Bloom: As the Web Opens Access to Information, Genealogy Has Never Been More Popular. (Life)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.