Tracing My Roots

i am a fan of the PBS show, Finding Your Roots, which details the search for ancestors of various celebrities and popular media personalities. If you’re not familiar with the show, the host, Henry Louis Gates, Jr, details the ancestry of a guest or two for each show, often highlighting one or two special ancestors and their stories for each featured celebrant.

I have done a bit of digging around my past by talking to my mother, who loves family history. She has a good grasp of the oral history of her family as well as my father’s family. Using Ancestry.com in the past few years, I was able to expand upon what my mom has explained, so that I know more about the past history of my father and mother’s family.

I used the information to produce two books, which were a combination of old photos and stories. One was about my father’s life, with some details of his ancestors, and one of the same for my mom. My next project is to combine the most compelling information from the two books about my ancestors and their lives. I want to pass this information down to the next generation. I don’t have children, so I want to present the books to my nephews and nieces as keepsakes so they can understand the most compelling stories of the past.

Thinking about the show, Finding Your Roots, I plan on focusing on several key stories. The show uses a book about the featured guests family to discuss important family events from the past. A family tree is given to each participant as well. I plan on using this format, too.

My goal is to highlight the most interesting stories from the past. Here are some of the questions I want to answer in my gift to my nieces and nephews:

!. When did my ancestors first come to the United States and why? Where did they settle?

2. Where did they emigrate from and why?

3. Did anyone in my ancestry own slaves? Did they fight in the Civil War?

4. What are some key narratives in my history? Were they heroes or infamous characters in the family?

5. Why are my mother’s and father’s family have so many parallels and shared relations? What cultural forces caused the two families to be closely bound in the past?

Can my readers add any questions you would add to the list? Have you any interesting comments about your own family to add to the comments?