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National Roots Day

Your family roots are one of the components that helped shape you into who you are today. It's possible that a relative from centuries ago possessed values that they passed to their children, that continued down the line, that you count as your own values today. Similarly, choices that they made, such as where to move to, might have impacted where you were born. The roots closest to you, your parents and grandparents, likely have had the biggest impact on your life, and if you have children of your own, you are the roots that will have the largest impact on them. On National Roots Day, a day set aside in recognition of family heritage, we celebrate our roots, and learn about our ancestors and from them.

Appropriately, National Roots Day takes place during the time referred to as the holiday season, when relatives—siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, adult children, and grandchildren—spend much of their time together, like a living family tree. Perhaps some of your older relatives have stories they could share. What better time to ask questions about ancestry and family history than this time of year? What can your grandparents or parents tell you about their grandparents? Do they have any genealogical records or even a family history book that they could share with you?

But you may need to dig beyond conversations with your immediate relatives and do some research on your own to gain a more complete understanding of your family heritage. You may find yourself poring over documents in a local library, historical society, or courthouse, or spending time on newspaper databases or genealogical websites like Ancestry. You may ask yourself and find answers to questions like: Who were these people? How did they get here? What did they do for work? What were their successes and failures? You may even come across striking stories and fascinating events about an individual in your family or you may find out that you are related to someone of historical importance. The fruits of your labor on National Roots Day may be something intangible, like inspiration from those who came before you, or may be tangible, like a new genealogy account of your family. At the very least, through exploration and investigation, you'll come to a better understanding of your roots.

How to Observe National Roots Day

The following are some ways you could spend the day:

  • Have conversations with your older relatives such as parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents and ask about family history and what is known of your ancestors. Inquire if there are genealogical records, photo albums, or an already-compiled genealogical account of your family.
  • Explore public records in libraries, courthouses, city halls, and historical societies, as well as online through newspaper databases and genealogy websites, such as Ancestry. Perhaps you could use what you find to help you compile a family history book.
  • If you are one of the older members of your family, have conversations with the younger generations about the family's roots.
  • Think about and reflect on the legacy that you want to leave behind. What will people conclude about you when they look back and see you as part of their roots?
  • Watch Finding Your Roots.
  • Pick up some genealogy books.
  • Subscribe to Family Tree magazine and explore their website for more genealogical information.

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