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old family photosThe popularity of looking for ancestors among dusty documents and dark archives may seem strange to anyone who hasn't caught the excitement of finding a missing piece of family history after digging for days, months or years.

The major draw to finding your roots may be to create a secure place in this modern whirlwind society, and to discover that people in your own genetic pool have overcome obstacles before.

How to begin researching your family tree

• Begin by rummaging through envelopes, file folders, boxes and albums for old family photos, birth certificates, and other documents to spark the hunt for more information about your family tree.

• Let your curiosity lead to asking questions of other family members -- beginning with siblings, mom and dad, grandparents, cousins, or aunts and uncles. If possible, try to get everyone together at a family reunion or holiday get-together so information can bounce off each family member for verification.

• Don't rely on your memory. Write everything down! (If you forget important details, no worries. You can always re-connect with family members to retrieve any lost tidbits.) Next, search the Web for a family tree template or software to begin entering all the information you have. A neat visual representation of your family tree is great for knowing exactly what you have and what you need to research further.

Free family tree templates
are a quick visual reference
for tracking what you have
& what you still need to find.

• Keep searching the Web for genealogy forums for tips and advice on what else (obituaries or marriage records, for example) and where else (such as Family History Centers) to look for other missing bits of information for free.

• Finally, pack your bags! There's really no substitute for making a trip to "the old country" to continue your search for your family tree. If you're not a natural-born traveler, search for travel operators who offer family tree travel tours to help in the hunt.

No matter what gets you started on the quest to trace your genealogy, once you begin it captures you. Like the draw of a well written novel that you can't put down until you've read the last page, researching your family history can be difficult to stop!

Around the Web, get help with finding missing relatives, explore your roots and reconstruct your family tree with some of the most user-friendly and best organized genealogy sites online.

also see -> Reenactment | Tracing Your Irish Roots | The Irish in America

More about researching your family history around the Web:

Cindi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet - A one-woman tour de force with over 190,000 searchable, cross-referenced and categorized links to everything you ever wanted to know about e-searching your roots.

JewishGen: The Home of Jewish Genealogy - A top site for researchers of Jewish heritage offering discussion groups, success stories, and a variety of databases to help mine thousands of files on family names and towns.

GENUKI - Search family history in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, plus news of genealogical events, advice on researching from abroad, links to world genealogy, newsgroups, bulletin boards, FAQ, newsletter..

Australia Genealogy Today - With more than 42,000 listings searchable by topic, location and surname, plus feature articles and and extensive list of related resources.

Italian Genealogy
- Everything a family history site should be with deep background to Italian history, databases to names and towns, active forums, chat, image galleries and lots more.

AfriGeneas - Nicely organized so you can dig right into searchable databases of surnames or what's being discussed in the mail list, plus feature articles and news briefs, and a weekly chat.

German Genealogy - - Everything you need at your fingertips with several searchable databases, links to personal homepages, organizations, mailing lists, emigration info, a FAQ, message-boards and more. In English and German.

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