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Now is a good time to rediscover your own home. Most of us are clueless about all the treasures and tidbits lurking in our closets, drawers, basements, and attics. Many a genealogist has been chagrined to finally determine an elusive ancestor's name after a year of research, only to find this same information in a suitcase of papers tucked into the corner of their own cellar. One of the best possible hauls? A stash of old letters—bonus points if they still have their envelopes with precious names and addresses. Other items to keep your eyes open for include:

  • Birth, marriage, and death certificates
  • Newspaper clippings, including obituaries and wedding and anniversary announcements
  • Naturalization and citizenship papers, including passports and visas
  • Religious records (e.g., baptismal, Bar Mitzvah, etc.)
  • Family Bible
  • Diaries and journals
  • Photo albums (especially photos with the name of the photography studio imprinted or details written on back)
  • Heirlooms such as engraved items, samplers, and quilts
Genealogy guru Loretto Szucs offers even more ideas in "Lou's 300 Family History Sources Checklist" (go to AncestryMagazine.com, enter "Lou's 300" in the search field, and click on "Home Sources"). After you're done poking through your own hiding places, you might want to see if Mom is willing to let you have a look at hers. (Hint: When scavenging for pieces of your family's past, play the odds by starting with the women; we tend to be the hoarders or protectors, depending on your perspective.)
FROM: Celebs Dig Up Their Family Secrets
Published on March 09, 2010

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