Journey Back in Time to Track Your Family Tree

If you've ever speculated about the history of your ancestors, there's a reasonably easy path to uncover the histories that have contributed to who you are today

What the Internet has done for family history research is truly remarkable

Every person has a story. So does every family. If you’ve ever speculated about the history of your ancestors, how they lived, or where they came from, there’s a reasonably easy path to start to delve into your genealogy and uncover the histories that have contributed to who you are today.

Before the advent of the digital age, acquiring information on your family’s past meant reading reels of public records on your library’s microfiche. “Nowadays, the fact that you can build your family tree online from the comfort of your home–in your PJs even–is amazing!” says Jennifer Utley, director of editorial & research at Ancestry®. “What the Internet has done for family history research is truly remarkable.”

Ancestry® is a leading family history website in Canada, which offers its members access to over 100 million searchable Canadian family history records. It is part of a global network of Ancestry® sites. As a whole, Ancestry® hosts the world’s largest online collection of family history records. Ancestry® members have created over 100 million family trees, and more than 20 billion records have been added to the site. To learn even more about yourself, AncestryDNA® can help trace your lineage and roots with a simple at-home DNA kit that reveals details about everything from ethnicity to personal traits.

The best way to jump-start your research is to involve your loved ones, call parents and have conversations. Utley suggests reaching out to the oldest member of your family—if you still have grandparents—and getting their DNA tested. Ask them stories about their childhood and have them help you be part of the process of uncovering your family story.

You can easily start to build out your family tree with some very basic information. “Start with what you know and add yourself to your family tree. Then add your parents, and everything you know about your grandparents, the dates and places of births, marriages, and deaths,” advises Utley.

When you start to build your family tree, Ancestry® searches its vast database of historical records, such as a census or military lists, to help you put the pieces together. As you build your tree, you’ll receive a “leaf”—a hint that can lead to new discoveries about your family. And the more you add to your tree, the more potential hints you could get. “People are surprised at how quickly a family tree can come together,” notes Utley.

There are defining moments in everyone’s life, or touch points as Utley calls them, when you start to look back. Perhaps it’s a death, or a birth, that sparks a desire or need to learn more about your family’s history. People can use the past to help navigate their future she says. Your history provides vital context that can influence your present-day life.

“There’s something really magical that happens the first time you see names that you know,” says Utley. “Your grandparent as a child with their siblings you found in a historical record, for example, will just resonate with you. You see your people and have a moment of attachment to them and realize that these people made decisions that lead to where you are today.”

With an Ancestry® 14-day free trial, you can choose from three levels of membership subscription with varied access. Visit for more details.