Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

10 Ways to Live Your Family History

Here are a few comments and suggestions about how to incorporate family history into your already busy lifestyle:

1. Keep a journal. How many times have you thought about how many questions could have been answered if my ancestor had just kept a diary or journal? Now think about your descendants. How many questions will they have about your life and your family? How many could be answered if you kept a journal.

2. Visit historic family sites. We all like to take vacations, how about going somewhere meaningful? What if you plan a trip around your ancestors' homes. Even if the houses are not still standing it is meaningful to visit the location. I always remember seeing my Great-great-grandfather's lot. All that was left was a basement hole and part of the foundation. But is was a meaningful experience just to know the family had lived there.

3. Write letters and keep in touch. Write letters to your relatives especially older family members. I have spent a huge amount of time digitizing my ancestors' correspondence. What kind of correspondence will you leave your descendants? E-mail? Keep copies of the letters you write as well as the ones you receive. Digitizing is fine.

4. Preserve your heritage. I often hear stories about old people who die and their children come and throw everything away, including all of the family history. I have saved a few boxes of records from the dump myself. If you know your children will not appreciate your family history, think about donating it to a local library or Family History Center.

5. Tell your children stories. When you learn about your ancestors' stories, tell them to your children. Pass the traditions along to another generation.

6. Keep photographs and identify the people in them. Too many times I find old photos with no identifying information at all. I cannot guess who the people are. Do not perpetuate this problem. Identify people and places.

7. Have family gatherings and reunions. You might just find out you have something in common.

8. Share your genealogy with family members. Not everyone is vitally interested in genealogy all of the time. Even if you think they won't care, give them a copy anyway. Some day they may dig out the copy and become interested. Count on it.

9. Take pictures of events other than vacations, holidays and birthdays. Of the thousands of photos I have it is remarkable how many birthday parties and vacations I preserved. But it would have been nice to have photos of my house where I grew up and the familiar places where I lived.

10. Last and not least, back it up. All of your work should be preserved with multiple copies in different locations. Don't depend on one flash drive to store all your information.

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