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Genealogy or Family History?

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Genealogy or Family History?

-by Kathi Reid

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Genealogy is the study of the line of descent from ancestors. While the term Family History is sometimes used interchangeably with genealogy, it more often means the biographical research into one's ancestors - a documented narrative history of interest to family members and future generations.

A family history study involves fleshing out the names and dates of genealogy by studying the history and geography in which the ancestors lived. Relating historical events to a family can really make that family come alive.

There are a number of genealogy search engines and utilities that can help turn genealogy into family history.

The Time Capsule by DMarie is a fun place to start. You can generate a page of with headlines, consumer prices, US presidents, birthdays, songs, TV shows, toys, and books for a selected date between 1800 to 2001. You can either do a "Quick Page" where a Time Capsule page is automatically generated or you can choose the "Advanced Page" button which leads you through a wizard to select specific headlines, prices, birthdays, songs, TV shows, toys, and books for the selected date. You can edit the information, or even add your own information to the final page. The data for the years 1800 - 1875 is spotty, but still worthwhile.

The Time Line by OurTimeLines can be created by entering the name of your ancestor with birth and death year and see how your ancestor's life fits into history. The results are printable and are a great addition to any family history. The time line will give your ancestor's age at different events during his lifetime. You can add your own events to the time line to make it a truly customized time line.

Use the inflation calculator to calculate today's monetary value for ancestor's salaries, amounts left in wills, etc. It will adjust any amount of money for inflation to a final year. When I calculated that the $11 monthly salary another of my ancestors earned as a private in the American Civil War was equivalent to today's $148, I realized what a sacrifice it must have been for his family. The inflation calculator can really put an ancestor's story in perspective.

The day of the week utility also helps fill in a family history. It is seem a small point to be able to say Wednesday, January 6, 1847 instead of January 6, 1847, but it does make it more personalized. It can also lead to all sorts of interesting questions. I was rather intrigued to find some of my ancestors were married on Wednesday. Did they elope? Was Wednesday a traditional day off? I still don't know, but it makes for interesting reading in the family history.

What could flesh out the family history more than discovering a photograph of an ancestor? There are several global photographic search engines . Ancient Faces has family and military photos, and mystery photos waiting to be claimed. Dead Fred has a searchable database contains thousands of identified photos as well as mystery photos for genealogy enthusiasts looking for long-lost relatives. Both are continually adding new photos to their databases.

Make use these utilities and search engines in your genealogy research and hopefully your family history will come alive.

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