What Is an Ancestor: My Family Tree Experience

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What Is An Ancestor: My Family Tree Experience. –*This post may contain affiliate links!*

For as long as I can remember my family have been actively engaged in family history research. My mother introduced me to the idea of the family tree at a young age. In fact, as a child, we would travel to Sheffield regular to research our ancestors and learn more about those who lived before us. I also remember travelling to Manchester to visit the city library and research with my mum when I was very young.

One of the most memorable things I did as a child was help transcribe the 1881 UK Census records. We did this for years with my parents on a regular basis and the records are now available online on sites such as familysearch.org and ancestry.com

What Is An Ancestor? 

An ancestor is a blood relative whom we descend from. Often known as a parent, grandparent, forefather, predecessor or progenitor, our ancestors are those who lived before us and we are literally their blood descendants.

We all have many ancestors and one thing I love to do is research my ancestors and find out more about them. Each of my ancestors has a story and I find it so exciting to learn about my ancestors and know more about the things they did, the way they lived their lives and who they were. 

I have some good ancestors who were pillars of strength in the community, I have ancestors who served in the world wars, ancestors who had public titles such as Eugene Wood my great x 4 grandfather who was the Lord Mayor of Barnsley. Some of my ancestors were convicts sent to Australia for crimes and another ancestor Merehana Puha was the daughter of a Ngai Tahu Maori chief! 

At the end of the day we all descend from someone and we all have stories and people to learn about. It can be super exciting.

How to Find Your Ancestors

One of the best places to begin if you want to research your family tree and find your ancestors is ancestry.com. You can enter your name and add your parents, grandparents and so forth. 

Talk to your older family members who are still living and gather as much information as you can, such as names, dates, places and input the data onto your own family tree on ancestry. You could also use the familysearch.org site or another family tress website. There are a few to choose from. 

Once you have all the information you know, you can begin to research your ancestors. When you visit ancestry.com or familysearch.org you can research records using family names, dates and places and this can help you to connect families together. 

Finding out more about who we are and where we come from can be exciting and there are so many paths we can take to help discover more about those who lived before us. 

Oral Family History

In some countries, family history was considered sacred. My Maori family tree, also known as my Whakapapa, was recorded through the years orally and passed down from generation to generation. This is the same for my daughter’s Tongan family tree. She is a descendent of many of the Kings of Tonga and oral traditions and oral history have helped preserve the records of those who lived before. 

Census Records

One of my favourite sets of records for researching my ancestors is the UK census records. There are census records in many countries such as New Zealand, Canada, the United States as well as many other countries. 

The UK Census records give plenty of information about individuals, including, name, age, sex, occupation, marital status and much more. Different records have different information. For example, the 1841 census records have mainly names and locations, whereas more recent census records such as 1871, 1881 and 1891 census records have more information.

The 1901 and 1911 census records are super useful as they also state how many children a mother had given birth to. This can help you to find “children” who are not listed on census records due to passing away at a young age during the decades between census recordings. 

Census Records and Occupations

One thing I love about census records is being able to see what occupation my ancestors had. Whether they were a potter, a coal miner, a stonemason or a farmer, it is always interesting to following the lives of my great-great-grandparents and beyond and learn more about what they did and how they lived. 

I guess I find researching my ancestors fascinating and I’m you will too if you take the time to learn and find out about those who literally gave you life. 

Researching My Family Tree

I’ve had a little break from researching my family tree. It’s been a while but I have so much more I want to learn and the more I do learn, the more I feel a connection with my ancestors and family of the past.  I think that’s why I love shows like Who Do You Think You Are. It’s just so interesting to me. 

Have you started researching your ancestors? Do you have some interesting stories? What have you discovered? I’d love to hear more. 


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About Angela Milnes

Angela Milnes is a Qualified Early Years Teacher who has specialised in Preschool and Kindergarten teaching. She has a wealth of experience teaching young children and is passionate about kids crafts and having fun as a family. Angela has also taught cooking skills and loves to share both family recipes and easy instant pot recipes here on The Inspiration Edit. Follow her on Pinterest!

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One Comment

  1. I love this. I’ve always wanted to research my ancestors but my grandparents died early on one side and my other side is estranged. Meaning, I have no one to ask details from. I feel like I have no place to start knowing only my parents information. I love those shows as well as books written by children who’ve discovered their parents weren’t who they thought. Back in the time of closed adoptions 50 years sgo no one knew dna would tell the real story.

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