Answers about ancestry - Finding the Roots, Branches and Leaves of Your History
By Lottie Nilsen / August, 2011
I have a very unusual first name for my generation -- Lottie. People often ask me if it's short for something and I tell them I am just Lottie, but the truth is, I am named in honor of numerous women on several of my family tree branches who were Lottie or Charlotte, the lovely and regal name from which emerged the shorter nickname.
In February of 2009, I got an email on Facebook from Elaine Rybski in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We are close in age and at similar places in our lives with two young children. I had no idea she or her family existed. We are fourth cousins through her grandfather and my maternal grandmother, descendants of Alexander Lindenberg, our great-great-great-grandfather, who was born in Germany and died there in 1870.
For almost 25 years, Rybski has been researching the various branches of her family tree. When she sent me a copy of the branch we share, I was pleased to discover yet one more connection to my given name. My great-grandmother was Blanche Charlotte Benheim.
Learning about Rybski was exhilarating because it was a reminder that there are people in the world with whom I share a link to generations that would otherwise be forgotten.
It was illuminating to discover through her carefully researched family tree that I shared a special connection to a woman who died four decades before I was born.
While genealogical research has long been a popular pastime, television shows in recent years like PBS' Faces of America and NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? turn the ancestry of celebrities into gripping narratives. They have captured the imaginations of many Americans who may be looking for a connection to their own past.
"There is this energy in your ancestry," said Gwyneth Paltrow during an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? dedicated to the inspiring and sad stories woven into her own lineage. "It's more than just facts and who was born where. We need to take responsibility for all our stories and teach our children about where we came from, both the good and the bad things."
Whether you're looking to avoid repeating the mistakes made in past generations, or for the enjoyment that comes from knowing you are a part of something bigger in this era of far-flung families, genealogical research is easier than ever. It is as close as your fingertips on the keyboard and the Parkland library, where there are a multitude of resources, many of which are free.
One way to start is to sit down with relatives and record their stories. All you need to find out who you are from generations past is the desire, patience and time to do the digging
Places to start your free search
Elaine Rybski recommends
She cautions that you must call to cancel at the end of the free two-week introductory subscription. The office is not open on weekends, so you must cancel before the weekend.
Search for 101 Ways to Research Your Family Tree for Free.
The Parkland library
Assists in genealogical searches.
The Florida Memory Project
The Florida Gen Project
Ellis Island Passenger Records / The Ellis Island Project
LDS Ancestor Hunt
Access to Ancestry Library Edition is available through library membership.
Broward County Genealogy & Family Resources
Fort Lauderdale Historical Society
Web site: www.oldfortlauderdale.org
Jewish Genealogical Society of Broward County, Inc.
Web site: www.jgsbc.org
Genealogical Society of Broward County Florida
Web site: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~flgsbc/index.html
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