New York State Funeral Directors Association

More than 1,500 lives were lost during the tragic sinking of the RMS Titanic back in 1912; but more than 700 survived.

Could any of these survivors be an ancestor of yours?

Years ago, if it weren’t for preserving family photos and stories, it wasn’t that easy for people to know where they came from – and what struggles their ancestors endured to get them there.

Today, resources are becoming more widely available, giving people the ability to learn exciting stories about their ancestors.

It helps people gain a true appreciation of the circumstances that led to their own lives.Find Your Roots Infographic

In honor of Genealogy Day – held on the second day of March – we’ve compiled some of these sources in a handy tree infographic.

Click the tree to visit the infographic – just click on each apple that sparks your interest and it will open up a link where you can search your name and perhaps discover fascinating facts about those who came before you.

Here are questions this infographic may help you answer:

Did Your Ancestors Arrive on a Boat?

Ellis Island served as a main point of entry for millions of Americans – could your ancestors be found on the passenger manifests? Visit the website of the Liberty Ellis Foundation where you can search all the passenger lists. You could get luck and learn what ship they arrived on and where it came from!

Where Did Your Name Come From?

Most of us are born with our last names and carry them with us for our entire lives. But few of us know where those names came from. Visit the Internet Surname Database and type your name in, you might learn interesting facts about yourself and your kin!

Did Your Ancestor Die at War Overseas?

More than 200,000 Americans who left their homes to fight in war never returned home. They were buried overseas, or considered Missing in Action. Their final resting places are preserved by the American Battle Monuments Commission, an entity of the U.S. Government created in 1923. Visit their website and you can search the database to see if any of your kin are honored overseas.

Is Your Family Name in the First U.S. Census?

There were about 3.2 million people in the U.S. when the first national Census took place in 1790. You can search the results of this census – maintained in its original form replete with old-style cursive handwriting on the website of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Find a Family Member in a U.S. Cemetery

Many American families got their start in the Northeast then followed opportunities in areas throughout the country. Do you know where your forefathers got their start? You can search your family name or the specific name of an ancestor inside more than 170 million listings on the website of Find a Grave.

Did You Have Relatives on the Titanic?

More passengers were killed than survived the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic. But the names of those who were on board are preserved by the website of Encyclopedia Titanica. Visit their website where you can search your name and see if any of your kin survived this disaster.

Could Your Kin be from the UK?

Many Americans trace their roots back to the United Kingdom, or at the least their names. You can peruse millions of articles from England and Ireland in newspapers dating back several hundred years. Visit the Find My Past’s Historical Newspapers Online website to see if your ancestors made it into the news!

Did Your Family Fight in the American Revolution?

For decades, the Sons of the American Revolution organization has been pouring through records of ancestry to confirm bloodlines of its membership continued on since the American Revolution. Visit the SAR website where you can search your last name and find out if you should become a member of the Sons of the American Revolution!

A Relative’s Ashes in a Funeral Home?

Family members sometimes move away from their birthplace and wind up elsewhere where they pass away. Sometimes, they are cremated and their kin aren’t always sure where they went. A relatively new website is gradually listing the unclaimed ashes of people being held by funeral homes and other institutions. Visit the Forgotten Ashes website to see if you have any family members waiting to be claimed.

Have a Relative Buried on Hart Island in NYC?

Sometimes, the government takes on the responsibility of final disposition for people who pass away with no family around. There are currently more than a million people laid to rest on the tiny island outside of New York City called Hart Island. This burial ground, maintained by the New York City Department of Corrections, now has a searchable database, making it easy for family members to learn if they have relatives there. Visit the Hart Island database to make sure you don’t have family members buried with no headstone or other recognition of their lives.

Is Slavery in Your Family History?

According to the first U.S. Census in 1790, nearly 700,000 people were held as slaves throughout the country. A new website compiles a variety of records – from slaveholders to the name of ships that carried slaves from Africa. Search through the New York Slavery Records Index to see if you might learn of any of your ancestors who lived a life of bondage.

Want to Learn from Your Family?

Sometimes, all you need to learn about your family history are the right questions to ask your elder family members. Plan on getting together? Find yourself some great questions to ask on this webpage from Thought Co.

Want a Free Family Tree Form?

People who start searching their family history eventually gather so much information they need a place to put it. You can find a free form to write down your ancestry – plus a lot of other great free resources – on the website of Family Tree Magazine.

Learn Your Origin from DNA

The DNA running through your veins carries a wellspring of information about where you came from. There are several companies that will pull your history out of your DNA, for a fee. Check out this article on the Smarter Hobby website for a review of several DNA services you can make use of to get a great head start on learning where you came from!



EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association