With new genetic technology such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe, more and more people are discovering where they came from.
To some, the results are surprising and they want to learn more about their ancestors. Others may be inspired to learn more about their heritage.
Either way, if you’re someone who’s interested in finding your own roots, here’s a quick guide to get you started on your journey.
Discover where you came from
Some families have large family trees with detailed records kept over the centuries. For others, they don’t know much about their family background other than the most recent generations.
One way to trace your family’s lineage is through an ancestry site. These sites provide numerous records, including birth and death certificates going back hundreds of years.
As you provide what information you have about your heritage, the site will begin to offer recommendations that help fill in the gaps and may even connect you to another relative who has more information.
You can also take a DNA test, which are growing in popularity. These tests typically cost around $100 and use your DNA to trace what areas of the world your ancestors likely came from.
Pinpoint the region you most want to learn about
If you have a family tree, research what area your family primarily hails from. This can often be vastly different on the paternal or maternal side, so take that into consideration.
If you have used a DNA kit, use their map to pinpoint the area you want to learn most about.
For some, this could be the region where they have the highest percentage in DNA. For others, they may explore a region with a lower percentage in DNA, especially one that was unexpected.
Dig a little deeper
However, these sites won’t always tell you what specific part of a region your ancestors came from. For instance, a site may tell me that my ancestry is from Scotland, but not what region. For this, you may have to dig a little deeper and use the records and resources available to you.
As an example, if I were to look further into my family records, I would see that my family came from Iverness-shire.
Plan your trip
Once you have done some research and chosen a region to visit, start making a plan for your trip.
Do you want to go for a weekend or a week? What time of the year would be best to go? Are there any festivals or regional events that would be worth seeing?
Use this time to research significant historical sites. Is there a prominent relative somewhere in your lineage? Did any of your ancestors fight in a famous battle? Does your family have any past royalty?
You may find a museum, a battlefield, or even a monument that honors one of your ancestors!
And while you’re there, be sure to try the traditional cuisine. You can also research whether there is a local history tour. There are also some tour companies that offer this specific type of travel experience.
Finally, find out whether you have any relatives who still live in the area. There could be family members who can introduce you to even more family history and culture. It is also a chance to connect with more family and form new relationships.
People are learning more and more about their heritage from ancestry sites. With a little research and planning, you can retrace the footsteps of your ancestors and learn where you came from.
Have you ever made a trip to discover more about your heritage? What was the most surprising thing you learned?
Let us know in the comments below.