Finding Your Roots: How to Trace Your Ancestors at Home and Abroad

Overview

Finding Your Roots offers a step-by-step guide into the world of personal genealogical research, beginning with something you already know -- your own name.

There are more than 1,500,000 family names (surnames) in the U.S. today. Although enormous numbers of European, Asian, Mexican, and other immigrants brought their surnames to this country during the last two centuries, the predominant family names are still very close to what they were in Revolutionary times. And because ...

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Overview

Finding Your Roots offers a step-by-step guide into the world of personal genealogical research, beginning with something you already know -- your own name.

There are more than 1,500,000 family names (surnames) in the U.S. today. Although enormous numbers of European, Asian, Mexican, and other immigrants brought their surnames to this country during the last two centuries, the predominant family names are still very close to what they were in Revolutionary times. And because most Western countries formed family names in four ways (place names, patronymics (son of, e.g., Johnson), occupation, and nicknames), your surname can be a clue to where you came from and what your ancestors did.

Next, find out what's already known about your family history, by interviewing older relatives -- grandparents, aunts, and uncles, etc. Westin shows you how to conduct interviews by phone, letter or in person, gives tips on taking notes and transcribing recordings, and perhaps most important, describes how to keep and organize your records. Simply getting back in touch with a long lost family member on a project of such mutual interest can be immensely rewarding in itself.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
The process of searching for family background and history has become infinitely easier in the age of the Internet. Genealogical software and reams of information posted to the Web are just two of the computer-driven innovations that have helped amateur family historians in their quest to look back in time. Finding Your Roots is a fine guide for all those who want to look within the U.S. and abroad for answers to their family's historical questions. Databases are reviewed, programs are picked apart, and the best routes for overseas searching are traveled. Fully updated for the age in which the computer serves as a more-than-adequate supplement to the library stacks, the latest edition of Finding Your Roots will open up new doors for the family researcher.
Library Journal
In this updated and expanded version of her previous book (LJ 7/77), Westin provides tips for newcomers in the field of genealogy, addressing the basic processes of gathering and compiling family history data. Including a new chapter on "Finding Your Roots in Cyberspace," the book covers methods of finding information in libraries and government records both in the United States and abroad, gathering information from relatives, compiling health histories, and publishing family histories. Several appendixes include addresses for libraries and genealogical societies, map sources, major ports of entry to the United States, and a list of the Mayflower passengers. Although the book is intended as an introduction, it fails to cover a number of methods and sources to a depth that ensures sound and successful research. Except for one new chapter, updated addresses, and web site listings, much of what appears in this work is taken from the first edition. Unfortunately, this also includes the first edition's errors. The book also suffers from a lack of discussion of several important works published since the late 1970s, especially P. William Filby's work on passenger and immigration lists. An outstanding reference book, The Source (LJ 9/15/84), is also ignored. One source Westin does suggest for further Spanish research is a periodical, the Spanish-American Genealogical Helper--which ceased publication in 1982. The mistakes and the lack of subject depth will leave most novice researchers stumbling in the dark. Not recommended. (Index not seen.)--Elaine M. Kuhn, Allen Cty. P.L., Fort Wayne, IN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874779431
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Edition description: Revised & Expanded
  • Pages: 335
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Journey to Your Past xiii
Introduction xv
Chapter 1 Genealogy--Your Greatest Adventure 1
Chapter 2 What's in a Name? A First Clue to Your Roots 7
Chapter 3 The American Family History: How Our Ancestors Got Here 25
Chapter 4 First Step Backward: How to Take a Family History and Gather Family Records 41
Chapter 5 Finding Your Roots with the Help of the World's Greatest Genealogy Collection 61
Chapter 6 Finding Your Roots with the Help of Public Libraries, Specialty Libraries, and Genealogical Societies 70
Chapter 7 Finding Your Roots Through Local Public Records 84
Chapter 8 Finding Your Roots Through Federal Records 104
Chapter 9 Finding Your Roots Abroad: Sources in Your Ancestral Homeland 135
Chapter 10 Finding Your Roots in Cyberspace 197
Chapter 11 Does Your Family Have a Coat of Arms? 219
Chapter 12 Your Family Health History 237
Chapter 13 Family Gathering: How to Unite Your Newfound Family 246
Chapter 14 How to Write and Publish a Family History 252
Bibliography 259
Appendix I State-by-State Family History Help List 262
Appendix II Genealogical Publishers and Bookstores 311
Appendix III Map Sources for Genealogists 315
Appendix IV Special Immigrant Passenger Lists 317
Appendix V Major Ports of Entry for Immigrants 319
Appendix VI List of Mayflower Passengers 321
Index 325
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