We hope you will enjoy reading the kind of personal discoveries and lifelong memories made by those who have taken an ancestral journey.
If you have an ancestral travel story you'd like to share with the world, we can publish it here. Also, find the green button at the bottom of the page labeled the "Captain's Log". Clicking it will take you to a special Captain's Log entry. Discover where else it may lead you.
Posted by Tom Nocera, Clearwater, FL
My first ancestral journey was a memorable part of a summer long visit to Europe. My brother Bud, and I teamed up to travel together following our college graduations many years ago.
We flew into Amsterdam from Jacksonville, Florida on a chartered DC-8 filled with college students and teachers. Unlike most who would use the economical rail passes, we made a decision made to pool our money to buy a used car and use it for our transportation. A red 1964 Fiat stationwagon was seen on an Amsterdam street with a for sale sign. We negotiated the price and took immediate delivery. From Amsterdam we made our way north to Sweden and spent several weeks discovering the Swedish culture. Tours to museums, a boat ride through the fiords, and a visit to a village to see a traditional "Midsummernight's Eve" were a few of the highlights. But, I digress.
Our ancestral ties were discovered a few weeks later when our trusty Fiat transported us along the French Riviera and into Italy. Bud and I knew our grandparents had come to America from Naples. So that made Naples an important destination for us. We drove south out of Rome on an ancient highway called the Appian Way. For many miles it is lined with statuary and artifacts dating back to the glory days of Rome.
On the way to Naples we decided to visit Pompeii. It was on the way towards Mt. Vesuvius, while passing through a picturesque town, that we saw signs bearing our last name. Talk about making an immediate connection with our ancestral heritage. That was just our first "ancestral connection" that day. It was actually in Pompeii, just a few kilometers distant, that the significance of our surname was put a truly historical perspective.
We discovered in Pompeii (covered and preserved by volcanic ash after its inhabitants were overcome by inescapable clouds of lethal gases - during the eruption back in 79AD) that there was a town gate, even known back then as the Portal d' Nocera. Interesting that the name we carry, and now our children carry, had been around for at least 2000 years and so had the community. We also learned that there had been a bitter rivalry between the towns of Pompeii and Nocera. We learned Nocera had been primarily Greek influenced while Pompeii was more aligned towards Rome - hence one of those unproductive, "so whose culture is better" rivalries existed...
One of President Ronald Reagan's last overseas journeys was in 1991 and included a search for his most distant roots. This ancestral journey brought both he and Nancy to Paisley, Scotland where he made his ancestral connections. He discovers freedom loving rebels in his family tree. Click here to read a really fascinating news account of his visit.
Posted by Aimee Troger June 22, 2004
My Experiences in Spain and Portugal Researching Family History
Aimee graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Certificate in Family History, specializing in Southern European Family History Research. She is fluent in Portuguese, and speaks some French and Spanish. She is also currently pursuing a Masters degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. Aimee offers genealogical research services and consultations, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently returned from a wonderful genealogy research trip to Spain and Portugal. The research I did wan not on my own family line, but I had some fascinating, gratifying, and very educational experiences.
I spent time in various types of archives, from the district to diocesan, to national, to municipal to provincial, and even a military archive, each containing different types of records and books. Access to handling the records can vary greatly from one archive to another - at one particular municipal archive not even direct family members were allowed to handle the books. The archivist would look up whatever exact name and date was requested, and then put in an order for a photocopy. This approach isn't very helpful to the genealogist, who is usually looking for those exact dates themselves. Also, when traveling overseas, who wants to have to waste time waiting for a photocopy the next day, or whenever they would be able to supply it? It also took away the opportunity to look for additional records on a particular family, like more children born, or sibling's marriages. But, sometimes, when researching original documents, you have to take whatever opportunities are available, even the ones that are so limited.
Fortunately, such situations aren't the status quo, and the ease of access covers a wide spectrum when it comes to researching in Spain.... continue