SATURDAY NOVEMBER 18, 2017
 
Blog TECH
USING YOUR SURNAME TO FIND YOUR ANCESTRY
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Everyone shares the desire to belong to something. We want to know who we are, and where our families came from. To track down that information, we talk with relatives, review historic documents in our hometowns, and dig through family paperwork to find out more.

But sometimes, those resources don't cover enough time. For the most part, citizens of nations like Canada and the United States are the descendants of immigrants, so this process can be complicated once you get 100 or even as little as 50 years back. You can trace a couple generations back, possibly reaching the city where they first set foot on the continent, but everything before that can be lost across the ocean somewhere.

The internet is changing that. You can find your last name origin quickly and easily online, and from there you can determine a lot about your identity that you never knew before--and that you might never be able to access otherwise.

From there, the possibilities are endless. Genealogy can be just the spark you need to develop a travel bucket list, giving you a starting point with real meaning for you as you hit the road. Or you can find long-lost relatives, heritage businesses, or countless other things connected to your family. Here's how online tools can make that possible.

REMOVING THE CLUTTER

If your last name is rare, you may struggle to find your ancestors. Yet if you have a very common surname, you may be so overwhelmed with results that you can't wade through. It's opposite sides of the same coin.

Internet tools can incorporate enough information with your surname to generate a more reliable result. If you're a Smith or a Rodriguez, not to worry. Online tools can process those results much faster and give you a direct path to the correct names, dates, and places.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Verification is a big part of genealogy. We can find lots of different records that stand alone, but we can't confirm our theories of how people, places, and dates are connected.

Working with an online system, you'll be able to take advantage of links between census records, shipboard rosters, birth certificates, marriages, and much more. With those tools working in unison, you'll know that the Thomas J. Brown who was 8 years old in 1872 is indeed the Thomas Brown who married Margaret Hodge in 1884. The links are already made; you simply step into a spiderweb of information by inputting nothing more than your last name.

ORGANIZING YOUR RESULTS

Most family researchers end up with a rustling pile of papers, with scribbled notes, photocopied records, and rumpled records from bygone generations. Assimilating all that into something meaningful, useful, and durable is difficult.

Using online tools is a much better way. You want to do research, not organize a filing system, and the tools will do that for you. Everything is automatically linked, neatly formatted, saveable, sharable, and legible. It far exceeds what even the most patient researcher can manage, and it will reduce the time and frustration you expend on your search, leaving you more of both to dig deeper.

The passage of time and the movement of people makes genealogy research difficult. It's compounded for North Americans who often lose the trail when it moves across an ocean into another language. Online tools take the best skills of researchers the world over and compiled their results into a manageable system that you can take advantage of as you build your own history. You'll know more of who you are and where you came from, and you'll learn it much faster.

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