To truly know our ancestors we need to know more than just their names. By learning more than just key information about them we take our genealogy research and turning it into our family history. Just as we are experiencing events in our lives our ancestors also faced various experiences such as disease, disaster, hard times, and good times that had an impact on their lives.
Events create various situations in life that create opportunities as well as hardships. Situations can include the need to escape, dealing with the grief of a loss, or the opportunity for success and wealth. Our ancestors did not always have the choices given to them due to an event that happened in their lives. I am sure many of us have been placed in similar situations and can relate to our ancestors.
There are several ways to learn about some of the events that took place in your ancestors' lives.
Newspapers and journals contain a vast amount of information. To learn specifically what was going on in your ancestors' communities. You will need to research to see what publications were circulating during their lives. By simply looking through the publication you are able to see exactly what was happening around them. During major pandemics and other events, you can find a list of names of people who may have been affected.
Personal & family papers, diaries, and letters are another way to discover personal accounts of events that happened. Even if you are not directly related to the person you are still able to learn about the situation your ancestor faced. This can give you a little more insight into what your ancestor may have experienced.
Accounts of events can also be found in historical societies; libraries; archives: State, academic and corporate; Township, city, and county records. To learn more about what they have simply look at their website and reach out to the organization.
Below is a few websites that may help you discover more about events that happened during your ancestors' lifetime.
"Plagues by city, state, date." A listing of significant disease outbreaks grouped by state; accessible through the Wayback Machine.
Harvard Business School: Historical Collection The collection covers financial hardships, crashes, and panics.
Centers for disease control. National Center for Health Statistics. "Vital Statistics of the United States."
gendisasters.com This is a great resource to help locate events that happened.
World Digital Library "TIMELINE: United States History
There are so many great websites to aid in learning about events that happened. If you have any favorite resources you have used to discover more about events that took place during your ancestors' lifetime please share below in the comments. I always love learning about new resources that will aid in me learning more about my ancestors and I am sure others will too.