I am from the Maternal Haplogroup H7c. It is incredibly moving that every person living today can have their maternal line traced back to one woman in Africa over 180,000 years ago. A Maternal Haplogroup is “family of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that traces back to a single common ancestor” (23andMe).
But my fascination in family history goes deeper than that, I often spend late nights on familysearch.org or the Ellis Island search engine. There are hundreds of people who have made you who you are and you probably don’t know most of their names.
Finding census records that contain my family’s name is thrilling, it’s like putting pieces of a massive puzzle together. Census records contain all kinds of information such as; jobs, birth place, age, and whether they were able to read and write.
Before I began researching my family I had no idea that my great-grandfather came through immigration at Ellis Island. Suddenly, learning about the immigration process in my sophomore year became much more personal. When you learn more about your family’s journey, the things you learn about in history class become much more meaningful.
Learning about some of the adversity my ancestors may have faced motivates me to help those who may be facing those same kinds of adversities today.
If you are able to, I really suggest searching your grandmother’s or grandfather’s name in a search engine like familysearch.org. You don’t need to fall particularly deep into the hole of census records or spend hours sorting through women with virtually the same name. Who knows, maybe you’ll start enjoying history class a little bit more.