Where did my family come from?

One approach is to find the origin of your surname, which may give you some indication of your family's origin, but it's not a guarantee. A country's nationality (and maybe your ancestors' surname) may have changed from one period to another, as happens, even today. The sure way to find your family's place of origin is to follow the basic research process, starting with yourself and working back, from the present to the past. In the short-term, here are some things you can do to get started.

1. Surname Origin Websites. Several websites list surname origins; just enter the keywords "surname origin" into your search engine (see #2, below). Keep in mind, this is general information and does not tell you anything specific about "your" family.

2. Surname Distribution Websites. Again, several websites offer surname distribution maps, which link surnames and locations, although the countries mapped are limited. The Ancestry.com surname distribution map does indicate surname origin and maps the distribution of the surname, within the U. S. or the UK. At present, you can access this information without a subscription.

3. Interview Family Members. One of the best ways to find out information on your own family is to interview family members, especially the elderly. Family members may have personal knowledge or may have heard stories about your family's origin. Checking home and family sources, which includes interviewing family members, is one of the first steps in beginning your family history. Other resources exist, but take more extensive research.

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