Do You Research Just Direct Line Ancestors in Your Family Tree?
Over the years, I have grown from researching direct line ancestors (when I was a beginner) to researching the family unit and collaterals. Collaterals are any blood relative who is not your ancestor – such as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, siblings, and so on. Ancestors are parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so on.This method of research, researching direct line ancestors and collaterals, has given me a snapshot of the family unit. It gives a look into their lives and helps to see them as real people who faced challenges and triumphs. As I researched the siblings, aunts and uncles I learned about their migration path, tragedies, occupations, the education level, their children, and grandchildren. When researching a great uncle, I found out that one of his young sons died not long after the family moved to Texas from Mississippi. Then, three years later this same uncle’s eleven years old son drowned in pond. They had moved from Mississippi to Texas and this great uncle worked for the railway. These people aren’t my direct line ancestors but they are my relatives.
Researching each family unit and all the people in a family’s circle or community will give you a deeper and broader picture of the families. So, research direct line ancestors, collaterals, and friends, acquaintances, and neighbors in your family’s community.