I, like so many others, am glued to the set on Friday nights watching the latest episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” This was yet another terrific story and probably a bit more relatable to many of us, the descendants of struggling immigrants with messy lives. The biggest comments made after the show seems to be, how do you do the research without a lot of cash?
I probably spend more than some on the research that I do. This is my version of a sports hobby that sucks up cash for tickets and logo stamped goodies. It is the one hobby that I have that has been a consistent money draw, without traveling to distant locations. For those that don’t have the extra cash to spend, there are a lot of ways to find information; you just have to be persistent. Google is your friend.
I have found at least as much information using Google as I have found using ancestry.com. As fabulous as ancestry is they don’t have everything… yet. Starting with what you know, what relatives know and have squirreled away in attics and closets gives you a large head start. I started a friend from work on his; I used ancestry to find information on his grandparents which led to his great grandparents. The next thing he knew the entire family was clogging up his email with names, dates and pictures taken from day trips to cemeteries. Seven hundred plus relatives later, the file is still growing and the stories are piling up with connections to Thomas Jefferson.
It is like putting together a giant puzzle with a bunch of relatives that like hiding the “last piece.” It usually takes out of the box thinking to find those pieces and it isn’t always through the front or backdoor, many times you have to crawl through a window, on the second floor. The on line community is huge and usually very helpful. I find it as exciting to help someone else move forward with their research as I do finding things for myself and many have helped me.
You just have to start. It isn’t as neat and tidy as on the TV show and for sure is no where near as fast. But if you enjoy a good hunt, it is well worth the time.