For Ex­plor­ing Your Fam­ily’s His­tory

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS -

(NAPSA)-If you’re like most Amer­i­cans, you like to feel con­nected: to the past, to a place and to oth­ers. Dis­cov­er­ing your fam­ily his­tory can be a re­ward­ing way to es­tab­lish those con­nec­tions and help un­cover who you are and where you came from. It can start sim­ply by iden­ti­fy­ing who is in your ex­tended fam­ily. You may be able to find the names of your an­ces­tors-grand­moth­ers, un­cles, cousins-go­ing back hun­dreds of years. Next, you can get to know them, learn where they were born, whom they mar­ried, how they made a liv­ing, where they lived and how they died. The abil­ity to make such con­nec­tions is get­ting an un­prece­dented boost this year with the re­lease of the 1940 U.S. Cen­sus. Re­search shows that 87 per­cent of Amer­i­cans alive to­day should be able to find a rel­a­tive in the 1940 Cen­sus. That’s al­most 275 mil­lion peo­ple who have a con­nec­tion to these records. This is the cen­sus of The Great­est Gen­er­a­tion. It showed 16 mil­lion Amer­i­can men and women safe at home on the brink of join­ing the dead­li­est war in hu­man his­tory. For the more than 400,000 who never re­turned from World War II, it’s the last cen­sus to record their names. The cen­sus tells the story of a coun­try grap­pling with the great­est eco­nomic hard­ship it had ever known, some­thing many find par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant to­day, as the coun­try starts to emerge from its cur­rent eco­nomic troubles. Amer­i­cans can get help dig­ging for their roots now that the 1940 U.S. Cen­sus is avail­able, free, on­line.

Be­cause mod­ern tech­nol­ogy lets you ac­cess the cen­sus at home as never be­fore, Tim Sul­li­van, the pres­i­dent and CEO of An­ces­try.com, the world’s largest on­line fam­ily his­tory re­source, says his com­pany has made the 1940 Cen­sus free to search at www.an­ces­try.com/1940. Mil­lions of peo­ple can lit­er­ally sit down with neigh­bors, friends or rel­a­tives who were ac­tu­ally there in 1940, find the cen­sus page with their name on it, and get them talk­ing. You’ll find an ad­dress for their home, names of fam­ily and neigh­bors. You’ll see the high­est grade they had com­pleted in school and the fam­ily’s yearly in­come in 1939. While they talk, you may get to know them bet­ter and get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of that place in time. You may even get to know a lit­tle more about your­self and how you fit into the larger arc of your fam­ily’s his­tory and the world’s. For ex­am­ple, Sharon Har­ris had only been look­ing at the 1940 Cen­sus for a brief time on An­ces­try.com be­fore she came across a record of her un­cle. She couldn’t be­lieve her luck: Not only had she found him quickly, but he was mar­ried to some­one she didn’t rec­og­nize. This short search into the new cen­sus has al­ready given her a clue to an aunt that Har­ris never knew about. Next on her list for dis­cov­ery is her fam­ily’s big­gest mys­tery: her great grand­fa­ther’s dis­ap­pear­ance in the 1930s. It could help you un­der­stand-and share with your fam­ily-the es­sen­tial hu­man ques­tion of who you are and where you came from.

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