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10 Ways To Discover Your Heritage In A Foreign Country

When we are introduced to the idea of finding out about our heritage in a foreign country, or even in our own country,  this usually involves the use of research tactics associated with Genealogy.  Much has been done in this area over the last few years to provide scientific and technological methods to make it possible for anyone to trace their heritage and find accurate and meaningful family connections.

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Many people start this journey from their own desk at home.  However, if you are living in a foreign country where your relatives originated or are still living, the search may pose other challenges.

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10 Talk With Other Family Members

 

If you are currently traveling or living in the country where your family originated it is a good first place to start by speaking with living family members. When possible there must be an extra effort made to visit with the older members of the family who know the names and places that many have forgotten.  These family members can often offer family stories with the names of places and buildings which will lead you further down the trail. In some instances you will see history being told again through these family members.

9 Google Search Your Ancestor's Surname

With modern technology, the internet, and Facebook at our fingertips it is a good move to just Google the surname  and origins of the person you wish to research.  Many times there may be a moment of name recognition after your conversations with family members, and then the chance of there being a connection may become evident.

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It may be necessary to search for different spellings of the surname since in a foreign country the original name could be spelled differently.

8 Review Old Maps And Other Geographical Information

 

An old map of the country and location where your relatives lived may be very helpful in identifying more exact details of the family history.  Over the years many borders have been changed due to treaties that were written as the result of wars or other events in history.

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In addition, many times countries will change the internal boundaries of counties  or parishes which in turn may affect where family information is recorded. Political boundaries, church diocese boundaries, and even school boundaries need to be investigated.

7 Search "Genealogy" In Your Ancestor's Native Language

If you are lucky enough read and write in your ancestor's native language, or have someone who can assist you, this is a unique way to uncover family ties and family history.  Many countries outside of the US did not keep current records of census or family identities.

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Also due to many wars having been fought in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, records could have been destroyed or hidden away in a church or other safe place.  Searching in a native language may show you a path to these hidden treasures.

6 Conduct A DNA Test And Review the Results

The latest scientific method of exploring your ancestry is to conduct a DNA test.  There are several of these companies available and each one offers excellent information on the roots of your family.  Since this practice is now world wide, some even enable you to receive current information from living relatives that you may not be aware of.  The reports from this test are very detailed and provide mind blowing summaries that could redirect all of the research you have done to this point.  Don't be surprised if you have been looking in the wrong places.

5 Build Your Family Tree

The use of technology has made the task of building a family tree much easier than in the past when people had to make large charts and write everything in by hand.  Once you have explored several ways to gather information on the family,  the next step is to adopt a computer program that you are comfortable with.

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Most programs have many different options with layers of information.  In addition, most offer the opportunity to print sophisticated reports that you can use to share with other family members.

4 Research The Types Of Records Available

When you are overseas it is a good idea to find out what kinds of records are available.  There are usually vital records such as birthdates and occupations, and church records, census and tax lists, and land records that you can use to fill in any gaps.  Remember that foreign civil servants are not always as prepared as officials in the states to provide you with this kind of information.  It is always best to keep in mind that you are a guest on the country. Remain polite and persistent and most people will willingly help.

3 Join A Genealogy Support Group

 

A list of International Family Websites is good place to start if you need help with your family research.  This site offers educational programs and research materials, sometimes  for a small membership fee.  However, before you enroll in any organization it is always a good idea to check at a local church or library.

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Many times you will find that there are active and passionate members who give you good advice and save you a lot of time.  Remember this is an historical search as well as an emotional one.  Many are here to help.

2 Hire A Professional Genealogy Researcher

A look on Google at the country you are interested in will no doubt bring up a list of professional genealogical researchers, or at least those who will charge you for their services.  There are existing rules governing these services, so it is in your best interest to make sure your investment is being used wisely.

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Like any business dealing it is safer to find references and check out the credibility of the people you intend to hire.  It is even better if you have a country contact who has used their services.

1 Travel And Take Your Research With You

This has to be the most exciting and interesting way to finalize the search for family history, especially in a foreign country.  Once you have devoted hours of time, money in computer programs, and endless coffee with relatives, you should reward yourself by planning a trip to the particular part of the country where your ancestors came from. Be sure to include cities and towns.  On this trip you can review your notes, see first hand the towns and buildings that have been mentioned, and meet your living relatives.

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