Traveling to Find Your Roots is a great article up today at the New York Times on heritage travel inspired by personal genealogy research. Traveling to Find Your Roots By
Tourism offices and governments have caught on to the interest in heritage travel. Ireland is now organizing gatherings (thegatheringireland.com) for people with Irish backgrounds. And after a successful run in 2009, Scotland is planning a Year of Homecoming in 2014 (visitscotland.com), inviting all those with Scottish roots to explore and celebrate their ancestry.
People setting out to find their roots are often motivated by a desire for personal connection, said Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist who, in conjunction with Hagers Journeys (Hagersjourneys.com), will research and create ancestry adventures. “We’ve become this mobile churning society and there’s a hunger for this belonging,” she said. “Whether I go to the Ukraine or Slovakia, I get treated like family because of my name.”
If you’re interested in making such a trip, you’ll need to gather as much information as possible. “Start with what you know, and that’s you,” said Diana McCain, head of the research center at the Connecticut Historical Society. She suggested noting dates — birth, marriage and, in some instances, death — for you, your parents and close relatives, as well as searching your attic for newspaper clippings, obituaries and diplomas. Glean as much information as possible from living relatives. Ask them to relate old family stories, and if they know of any distant relatives who may still live in your family’s native country.
I don’t think I’m ever going to be like a celebrity on WDYTYA, who finds out she’s from Austria and arrives in Vienna ten minutes later. But I am on a mission to get to all of my European ancestral places. So far, I’ve been to my great-grandmother’s place in Ringebu and my great-grandfather’s place in Eiker, both in Norway. Scotland is next!
For other posts on heritage travel, click here.