Weekly Planner: Learn About Your Ancestor’s Environment

Use the Internet, read books, or visit your local library to get to know the area in which your ancestor lived. What geographical features are in the area? Hills, mountains, streams, rivers, desert? What is the weather like? Are there long winters or no winters? How far did your ancestor have to travel to go into town? Was there a geographical hazard between your ancestor and the closest town that might have made it more convenient to do business in a town further away? How would he have traveled? By horse or perhaps by boat? Did waterways freeze over in winter? Getting to know the lay of the land will give you a better understanding of your ancestors’ lives and will add interest to your family story.

4 thoughts on “Weekly Planner: Learn About Your Ancestor’s Environment

  1. I can’t imagine having to be told to search your ancestor’s time, place and environment. You might just as well add the clothing and jobs. How many know that horses walked on water? They were used for power on the local ferry. Why would you do genealogy if you didn’t do a back ground on them?

  2. I agree completely with Jane. However, you would be surprised at how many people appear satisfied with just counting up ancestors as far back as possible without knowing anything about them.

    The more you read the more exciting genealogy becomes. To read about the hat industry when your 19th century ancestor was a hatter, to read about the worst cholera epidemic in London, 1849, the year your ancestors left London. This is what makes genealogy special for me.

  3. My grandmother’s family had to walk one-half mile to the nearest spring for water, then carry the water back to their farm… for EVERY thing they needed water for: drinking, cooking, laundry, bathing, etc. That’s one mile for every [presumably TWO buckets] bit of water they used in the house and on the farm. These days, I listen to children complain if they have to fill or empty the dishwasher as a ‘chore’ – That makes genealogy come alive, for me.

  4. I have read over 10 years of newspapers from the Ness City/McCracken area in Kansas during the time my ancestors were there. I have learned much more than census records could ever tell me. These newspapers had a great “chat” column back in those days. (late 1880s – 1910) It tells what everyone was doing, parties, school news, town politics, aniversaries and of course obits! Talks of weather, crops, farm implements, also how trains, electricity, and phones changed their lives.
    Order microfilm from the location you are studying and you will be surprised.

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