On Saturday, I uploaded a new video to my channel talking about my Ancestry DNA results. Today, I thought I would look at my results and also talk about my experiences with researching my family tree, and what I've used to get to where I am today.
My mum has been researching her side of the family for a few years now, and actually organises a family reunion each year for her side of the family. In recent years, I got into working on the family tree and expanding on what my mum had already found. I signed up to Ancestry and began plotting both my parents' sides of the family, using some basic family trees that we had acquired over the years.
In no time at all, I had found so many records for my ancestors, new branches of the tree, as well as going back more generations than my mum had originally gone. And what's more, there were some interesting stories to tell about many of my ancestors, which only made to research so much more interesting and fulfilling.
To make my research a little easier, I've broken my complete family tree into different branches, so that I've got seven separate trees on Ancestry. This has enabled me to focus on one area at a time, without getting lost between all the different names and families.
The earliest I have been able to trace, at this point in time, is to 1689, with the other branches going back to the mid-1700s. Of course, I'd love to be able to go back further, but that could prove very difficult. I'm happy with how far back I have been able to trace my family, and even just being able to go back to the 1800s was amazing.
Before I get into what I've used for research, let me share with you my Ancestry DNA results. They're actually really cool, and something I recommend everyone do.
First there is my Ethnicity Estimate, which is described as: "Your ethnicity estimate shows where your ancestors came from hundreds to thousands of years ago. We calculate it by comparing your DNA to the DNA of a reference panel of people with deep roots to specific places around the world."
From my research, I already know that my family has come from northern England, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy (but that's just in the last few hundred years), so it's really interesting to see my ethnicity laid out like this. The 4% from West Asia is really surprising, and I only wish I knew where/when that comes into my tree. But being hundreds to thousands of years ago, it's probably not something I'll be able to trace. Still, it's very interesting.
The second part is Genetic Communities, which is described as: "Genetic communities show where your family probably lived in the past few hundred years. We create these by identifying groups of AncestryDNA members who are genetically connected to each other."
Again, this is really interesting to see, although it doesn't line up directly with what I've already discovered about my family. However, I think Genetic Communities is just a guide and will only improve as more people do the test.
All this helps you connect with other Ancestry members who have already done the DNA test, which is awesome. I had already connected with a few distance cousins before doing the test, but now I can see more connections to other people, which, again, will only increase are more people do the test.
Where I Research...
Ancestry has been my main research portal, as so many sources and records have been added to their database, and there's continually more added. But there are a few other online locations that have been really helpful in shaping the stories of my ancestors.
The first is Trove, which is run by the National Library of Australia and allows you to search through old newspapers which have been digitised. I've found so many articles where my ancestors have been mentioned, and many have had quiet an interesting life. Since this is an Australian site, it's only been able to help me for my ancestors who lived in Australia. I know there are similar websites for England, but I've yet to really get into it (plus, the names I'm looking for a very common, so it would take a while to weed out those who aren't related to me). But if you're in Australia, Trove is a fantastic resource that's super easy to use. It's also great to find Government Gazettes and historical property maps.
Speaking of land ownership, the Lands Department has a really great historical maps database that you can search, and there are a tonne more maps here than on Trove. It's been amazing to see where my ancestors have lived, and has helped me track down the present-day property, some of which we've actually visited. Again, this is an Australian resource (more specifically, a New South Wales resource), but I'm sure there are similar websites for other locations.
The next two websites are very similar, and they are Australian Cemeteries Index and Find A Grave. Both are databases for cemeteries and burials, with Find A Grave being an international site. It's great to be able to look up cemeteries and find the graves of ancestors, plus there's the opportunity to get photos of the headstones. However, both are user-made databases, so what you are looking for may not always be available. Not only have I located graves using both sites, but I've also added my own records for graves that were yet to be recorded online. It's a great resource that is continually growing.
Another Australian resource is the National Archives of Australia, although I'm sure there are similar archives overseas. This has been particularly useful for locating military records. All of the First World War enlistments and military files have been digitised, and they are slowly digitising post-World War One documents. There's so many people in my ancestry that have fought in both World Wars, and Vietnam, so it's been great to find these files. Also helping with military records is the Australian War Memorial.
There's still so much more for me to discover and so many branches that I'm continually working on. There's always new information and records becoming available, and it's been so fun and interesting researching what I have so far. I've shared all this with my various family members, who have loved reading through the family tree and the various documents that I've found.
If you haven't already, I highly recommend starting your own genealogical research. It's amazing to see where you've come from and what amazing stories are hidden in your ancestry. If you've already started, keep working on it! I know there are times when you hit a dead end, but there's always something new to find or search in order to push on.
I'm not a genius or master when it comes to family tree research, but feel free to ask me anything you want to know and I might be able to help. Something I do want to share with you, probably in a video moreso than a blog post, is how I've recorded and organised everything I've found. Let me know if you'd be interested in seeing that.
See You Soon!
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