In 2010, before I got married and I had bread to blow, I created an Ancestry.com account. Initially, I started a monthly subscription ($19.99/month) to start working on my family tree. My family had lost two matriarchs within 8 months of each other (my gram and pop-pop) and we never thought to pick their brain about where we came from, what their parent’s names were, where they were born, occupations, etc. So I created the account. I added myself, my siblings, my parents, their siblings and their parents. Within hours, all these “leaf” (hints) alerts started popping up. Each time I click on one of these leaves, additional information would appear for each person. Stuff like census records, war enlistment documents, death certificates and even photos of grave sites. Bananas! (did you know there’s actually a career in travelling around, photographing burial sites and uploading that info on findagrave.com????) These records that I kept uncovering even included info on my great-grandparents, their siblings, their siblings children, etc. My fam tree grew from 20 to over 100 people within weeks. Just like that, I managed to find records dating back to the 1800s on where my great-great grandparents were born, lived, and died. I even found a family tree for a great-great aunt who married a Caucasian guy in the early 1900s and their family lives 20 minutes from me. Mad Caucasian. I can’t wait to shoot them a message saying “heeeeeyyyy! this is your black cousin Janelle! What up?”
Some people don’t care (or don’t want to know) where they come from. They’re afraid of what they will discover or they just assume their ancestors were slaves. Not necessarily the case. Your aunt Mary may have told you that your dark hair came from your Cherokee Indian great grandfather, but he could have been an Asian dude. Real talk! Some people are just cool identifying as “black” or “white” or whatever based on how society views them. That’s fine. Me, myself, I want to know who I am and where I come from. I don’t want to identify myself solely based on the content of melanin I possess. You’re limited with the amount of info you can find on ancestry.com based on the type of subscription you choose (I cancelled my subscription shortly after I got married, to save money, but after loosing more family members recently, I reactivated it), but you can now get a DNA analysis for $99 which gives you a breakdown of where your ancestors originated from. It even gives you percentages (i.e., my homegirl’s mom, who identifies as Black, is 56% African [including Congo and other regions of Africa) and 39% Caucasian). She swore she was red dot, as her elders had told her, but there was ZERO Indian in her bloodline. Y’all better know who you are. If anything, it’s mad interesting, don’t you think?
So I’m still currently working on my tree. Another benefit is that you have access to information that other subscribers have entered onto their family tree (if you share relatives). You can actually contact them through the site to say what’s up and share info. We’re all connected. Check out a free trial at ancestry.com.