Family History Month Day 31: Photos

This is the last day of October, and the last day of Family History Month. I hope you've enjoyed the little genealogy ideas I've posted throughout the month.

One of my favorite things about family history is photographs. I love to see old photos. It doesn't matter if it's people, places, or thing, I love to see them all.

Sometimes photos are well preserved, other times they haven't been as well taken care of and are in need of repair. One great thing about today's technology is Photoshop. We can scan an old photo into the computer, and with Photoshop bring it back to it's former glory. Some people are great at it, others not so much. I think I fall somewhere in between. I can do basic changes and enhancements, but the intricate complicated stuff is a little beyond me. There are great tutorials on YouTube and various photo-related sites that can help get you started with digital photo restoration.

Now, about those original photos...where are you keeping them? Technology has changed over time in this area as well. Archival safe products are readily available to consumers now. So, get the photos out of the old albums and put them in safer albums to help preserve them longer. And while you have them out, scan them.

Lastly, share your photos. Most genealogy sites have places to put photos of your ancestors and the places they lived. This is a great way to share the photos, and be sure to look up photos others have submitted. Maybe you look just like one of them and never knew. And, if you come across photos you can't identify, there are new sites popping up like that you can post the photo to, with info about it (where, when...) and someone else can claim the photo. These sites are especially great for people who 'rescue' old photos from antique stores and flea markets.

Family History Month Day 30: Publishing Genealogy Online

Going along with yesterdays post, this one is about making a family history website or blog. Once again I will direct you to Cyndi's List for more information about how to make a genealogy website.

I personally chose to do a blog instead of a static website, because I like to have a place to write my thoughts and current research. But, you don't necessarily have to choose, you can have a website with an attached blog.

A website can be something as simple as a family tree or pedigree chart. It can have family group sheets. You can publish photographs, biographies, and stories about your ancestors. You can put digital files of sources, links to other pages, and have everything cross referenced within your site to see how people are related. As with most things on the internet, it can be changed and updated as needed. This is encouraged, because you will want to keep your information current with your recent findings. It's nice that you can start small and keep adding as you find more information and more ancestors.

If you don't want to make a full website, you can start a blog to track your research or record your family history. they can function much the same as a website, with internal links, pages for different ancestors, updated information, and easy sharing. A blog is also easier to promote, since you are updating content more often, can share specific posts, and stay current with genealogy news. There is a great list of genealogy blogs called Geneabloggers, and you can find other bloggers to connect with and have your own blog listed.

Family History Month Day 29: Publishing Your Work

Once you have a good amount of information collected, you might consider publishing your work.

There are many kinds of published family histories, from scrapbooks to family trees, to individual biographies. You can have them printed, bound, make e-books, a website, or just print off sheets at home and staple them together.

For more professional looking books, or to have the option to sell the book, consider self-publishing the book through sites like Lulu or Blurb.

But, as usual, the best list of links for more information can be found at Cyndi's List. Go check it out.

Family History Month Day 28: Research Notes and Tracking

Keeping track of what you have researched and what you need to research can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there are people who have made and shared research forms to help you out.

One common form is a census worksheet, not just for the US censuses, but other countries as well. There are lots of places to get these for free online. They help you extract data from a census record, with all the columns listed. Great for condensing the big census record down to just the names and information on your family. Similar forms can be found for ship and immigration records.

There are research logs, source lists, correspondence logs, immigration charts, family group sheets, cemetery forms, and various kinds of family trees. Most of these are printable, but can easily be recreated in excel or other computer based programs for going paperless. Cyndi's List even has templates for EverNote, to keep track on the go and store the info online automatically.

Here are some of the places to find them online:
Family Tree Magazine
Ancestors, from website that goes with the PBS series
The Bailey's Free Genealogy Forms
The Genealogy Forum
Wakefield Family History Sharing
High Point Research
Mid-Continent Public Library

The Shy Genealogist, Excel and Word templates (and tutorials to make your own)

Family History Month Day 27: Message Boards and Mailing Lists

In earlier days of e-mail and internet genealogy Message Boards and Mailing Lists were very popular. While they may not be quite as popular now, they are still a great source of help and information.

Rootsweb (owned by still has its surname mailing lists, that you can still subscribe to. You would use a common (or difficult to research) surname from your family tree, subscribe to the list, and be connected to other people also researching that name. There are also archives from the mailing lists that are searchable.

Rootsweb has also combined their message boards with Ancestry's, which can be a good place to ask for specific help (boards are listed by location or topic). Rootsweb, and the message boards, are free, so that's a big plus as well. This may be easier to look through, since the posts weren't originally e-mails, they are archived and easy to search.

Family History Month Day 26: Share the Workload

There is almost always at least one genealogist in a family. Luckily for many there is more than one in a family. This can really help with the work. If you have a cousin, sibling, parent, or other family member who also does genealogy work you can share your research, split up the workload, and help each other out.

You can split up the family lines and each research part of it, so you aren't duplicating the work. Then you meet back together, share your information, and collaborate on how to proceed.

Often, when you talk with someone about what you are researching, and your brickwalls, they can help you figure out what to research next. This can be just you figuring things out as you try to explain them, or they can give suggestions.

If you are lucky enough to have someone else in your family that shares the same family history hobby, take advantage of it and work together.

Family History Month Day 25: Digitize Your Records

Even if you have always used a computer to do your genealogy, chances are you have paper records. Photocopies from books, records sent from a courthouse, photos, old letters... you get the idea.

While having the original paper document is great, you should also digitize your records and sources, and find a place to upload them online. You will want to have a back up of your records. And it makes it easier to share.

So, buy a scanner, or even a decent digital camera and digitize your stuff.

Family History Month Day 24: Town History

Sometimes it's good to step away from the family tree, and look at the family history. Part of that history includes the local town history for the places your ancestors came from, or went to.

Do you have ancestors that helped settle an area? Did they live in the same village for 10 generations? Whatever their story, there is a place you can research.

How did it get it's name? What brought people, including your ancestors, to the area? Who was the first mayor? Did your ancestors own any shops there? What churches were there? There are all kinds of things you can find out.

So, I encourage you to pick a town and write up a history of it. And don't forget to write about your ancestors being there.

Family History Month Day 23: RAK

RAK means "Random Act of Kindness". In the genealogy world, this means doing something nice and genealogy related for someone else for free. With the prevalence of social media and family history websites, this is easier than ever.

You can easily join an online genealogy group (on facebook for example) for the regional area you are researching. You can also join one for your own local area. The purpose of joining a local area, as opposed to where you are researching, is to help be a researcher for others. Someone might have a question that, as a local, you can easily answer, or go look up in your library. And this good karma comes back to you, because later when you need information from far away, there will be a local there to help you out too.

So, don't forget to 'pay it forward' and do some random acts of genealogy kindness, and do local lookups for others.

Family History Month Day 22: Making Time

This month I have been writing little bits and ideas for doing family history. But what good is it if you don't have time.

That's why it's important to make the time. Schedule it into your week. Maybe on Sunday afternoons, or half an hour in the evening after the kids go to bed. A regular time to sit and do work can help you feel more organized about it, and putting it into your schedule can help keep it a priority so you won't miss out or forget.

Of course, there are some of us who love genealogy so much we don't have to schedule it, we do it in all our spare time (well, maybe not all, but much of it). But it's still important to have a good block of time to focus on genealogy so you don't make mistakes and connect with the wrong families.

Family History Month Day 21: Family Traditions

Much like handed down family recipes, it's common to hand down family traditions. So, one great thing to do for family history is to record the traditions and how they started.

For example, in my family, we do a big dinner on Christmas eve, and just eat leftovers on Christmas day. This started with my grandma, because my grandpa didn't want her spending all day on Christmas working in the kitchen. So, they decided she'd get the day off, and they moved the big feast to the night before. We still continue this tradition and I have never had to cook on Christmas. As a child I never knew the reason we did that, I just assumed it was so we'd spend one day with my mom's family and the other with my dad's (we lived close to both sets of grandparents).

It's good to find out the origins of family traditions and record them for future generations.

Family History Month Day 20: Education

There is a lot to learn about genealogy. And there are many places to learn from. 

There are in person classes through l local family history centers or genealogical societies. Web based classes, both free and paid, from places like Ancestry Academy, BYU, or Family Tree Magazine. Blog posts with up to date info and tips. Videos on YouTube. Books, especially good for specific topics or country research. Conferences that bring expert speakers to you. And pdf downloads from various websites.

You can find just about any information and educational materials online or in local libraries. So go take a look at all they have to offer. You will certainly benefit from not having to "reinvent the wheel" and figure things out the hard way. And if you have a great tip or trick, share it with the genealogy community.

Family History Month Day 19: Organization

It doesn't matter if you use the computer for genealogy or paper files, you need to have organization. Stacks of paper or tons of oddly labeled files are a pain to go through to find that one piece of information.

This summer I organized my fathers files. He had a large drawer full of papers, sorted into just 4 giant folders. I found a great organizational tutorial on pinterest, and hopped over the website to get the details. Aside from the colored folders (I used colored labels instead) I made almost no changes to the method.

Now for my files, it was all digital. I have sorted my files into similar folders and sub-folders as my dad's files. And then each file is actually named with a last name, first name, birth year, and description. 

It really makes it easy to find things when they are well organized.

Family History Month Day 18: Computer Based Pedigree

I'm pretty sure most people nowadays use computer programs to keep track of their family history. There are lots of wonderful programs out there. Some connect directly to genealogy websites as well. I love that. Some have mobile apps so you can take your tree on-the-go. So convenient.

Some popular programs include Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, Family Tree Heritage, and Ancestral Quest (there are more, but I'll stop the list there). If you haven't already, please find a good genealogy software and input your family names soon.

While most people already use software for genealogy and have built up a pedigree, one thing fewer people do is cite their sources. Every pedigree program has a way of noting the sources of your information. And it's very important. When you go to various online genealogy sites, you will connect with other genealogists, and they will want to verify the information you put there. If you know your sources of information, you can point them in the right direction and prove that your family is who you say it is.

Citing sources is very important, but not everyone does it. Websites like Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Family Search make it fairly easy to connect sources to the people in your tree. With Ancestry you need to be careful when citing someones tree as a source for yours. It is far better to use direct sources like birth records and censuses.

So, if you use genealogy software, find out how to cite your sources there, and get that data verified.

Family History Month Day 17: DNA

New technology is always advancing. One cool thing that has been happening in genealogy is the use of DNA to find family roots.

There are different kinds of DNA testing that you can do for genealogical research. The first is Maternal line (mitochondrial dna) testing. Anyone can take this test, as everyone carries their mothers mtDNA, but it is passed on by the women in your family, so that's the line it will trace. The next kind of testing is Y-DNA, which follows the Paternal line. As it tests the Y chromosome, only men can take this test (since women don't have a Y chromosome). Finally there are autosomal tests, which is designed to find relatives that share ancestors within 5 generations. This can help you find living cousins that share an ancestor on either side of the family (you'll probably have to do genealogy work to figure out which ancestor you share). This is the newest test they have made, and hopefully it will get refined as time goes on.

All DNA testing is best done to validate family relationships and origins. Although, it can help point you in the direction of where to look for relatives, or countries you may not know you have connections to. It's all very interesting, and still fairly new science. But definitely worth checking out if you have the time and money to do it.

Family History Month Day 16: In Person Research

While there is tons of information online, and more being added every day, the majority of genealogical information is still found in libraries, courthouses, churches and even the National Archives (and not online).

First, figure out which place you need to visit, then find out if the records are even available, and if they need to be ordered ahead of time. And don't forget to be nice to the people who work there, they can be your best asset for finding the records you need.

One of the best things you can do for your genealogical research is to actually go out and do research the "old-fashioned" way.

Family History Month Day 15: Cyndi's List

Don't know where to start looking online for genealogy information? Cyndi's List is the place.

It's been around for quite a while and is full of great stuff. It's a huge list of genealogy resources found online. They are all categorized and cross-referenced. She keeps it as up-to-date as possible. And it's all for free.

So, if you are stuck with where to go online for help with your brick wall, or starting to look in a new country, check it out and wonder why you never went there before.

Family History Month Day 14: Non-direct Lines

Sometimes you look at your pedigree, especially online, and think your work is all done (because everything else is a brick wall, or someone else has done so much). But, even if lots of things have been found for your direct ancestors, what about their other relatives. If you are just looking at your direct line, you could be missing out on all their siblings families.

Also, by looking at other relatives, you might find info on your direct ancestors. Families often traveled together and lived near each other. Or maybe you are the descendant of child number 5 of 12 and only the family of the oldest passed down the family records. Researching your non-direct ancestors can lead you to find cousins you never knew existed. And it gives you something new to look up when you feel you have exhausted all the resources on any particular person.

Family History Month Day 13: Timelines

One of my favorite tools for tracking individual ancestors is a timeline. It makes it very concise about what info is missing and what the order of things is.

I also like to include world or country events in my timelines. Things like a war can mess with a family history (large gaps in children's births for example). Sometimes it can explain why your family moved to one place or another, or immigrated across the ocean.

It can track migration patterns, and lead you to know where to look for other missing information. Also, you can combine the timelines of different ancestors and see how your family ended up together to eventually make you.

They also make great scrapbook pages for a family history album, since they are easy to read summaries of someones life.

Family History Month Day 12: Family Recipes

What family gathering doesn't involve food?

One fun way to get more of the family involved in family history is to involve food. Gather family recipes and make a book. Sometimes you have a recipe that has been in the family so long you don't know where is came from, other times you just have a family favorite from Betty Crocker or something.

In my family, Christmas is the biggest holiday. A few years ago I made a Christmas cookie recipe book for my mom, sister-in-law and me. So that we would have all our family favorites in one place. Of course, it didn't hurt that we had to make each recipe to take a photo (because who doesn't love baking cookies?).

We have family recipes for everything from 'nuts and bolts' (it's like chex mix) to home made ice cream to stuffing for a turkey. There are also older recipes like bread pudding from England. And now that I have a husband, his family recipes can be included for our kids.

There are lots of ways to store recipes: on cards, in binders, or in a photo book (my personal favorite option). So, go find some family recipes, cook something up, and save them for future generations.

Family History Month Day 11: Family Tree as Decoration

There are tons of adorable family trees out there. I have a cute colorable one that looks like a house. I got it when I was 12 or so. It hangs in my living room. I also have a cross stitch pattern for a family tree with a heart carved on the tree and people sitting at the base.

But, now that I'm married I have been thinking about getting something bigger, to include my husbands family. Also, since I've been more into genealogy, I also want something with more information, at least years.

I have found some great ones on Etsy, and even Martha Stewart. The only problem for me is that I have to hand write in the names and information. I don't know about you, but I don't really like my writing, and it's difficult to deal with written mistakes. But, if you are careful and write well, they are great.

For me, I use I like the big 9 generation chart, but you can also do photos, pedigree charts, and even name clouds. And because I use FamilySearch I can just sign in, input the reference number for the person I want to be the base of the tree, and it fill out automatically. If you don't use FamilySearch, you can also upload a gedcom for it to work from.

Another kind of decoration, is to have a literal tree (metal) and photos hanging from it. I've seen them around, in mail-order catalogs and even Macy's.

The newest fun family tree decoration is probably a vinyl wall decal. There are ones with place for picture frames, ones with names, and some that are just trees and a cute genealogy saying.

Whatever your taste, I'm sure there is a family tree decoration that fits your style and can display your family proudly for the world to see.

Family History Month Day 10: The Census

The US has done a census every 10 years since 1790 (though the 1890 census data was lost in a fire). Some have included more information than others. Some are just a recording of the number of people in a house, sometimes it includes their age ranges. Eventually they recorded all the names of the people in the house (though spelling of those names depended on the enumerator writing down what he thought he heard) and other information about them (place of birth, place of parents birth, immigration, occupation...). They release the information to the public 72 years after the census was taken.

Many individual states have conducted censuses as well. They usually did so every 10 years, in years ending in "5". For more information about which states did a census in which years you can see the list on

Other countries also conducted a census of their populations. Though not all are available to the public.

One way of doing genealogical research is to pick a census and find all the relatives you can in it. You can take your family tree, figure out who was alive during the census, and find them. Don't forget to look on nearby pages as well. The census was taken house to house, so people who lived near each other will be listed close together. Many times families will live close together, and you may find cousins nearby. and don't forget about odd spellings, enumerators weren't always the best at spelling foreign names.

Family History Month Day 9: The Family History Library

In Utah, the Family History Library is big and awesome. It has 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogy records, 727,000 micofiche, 356,000 books, plus other periodicals and resources. This is where most genealogical records online come from. FamilySearch puts them online of course, but so does Ancestry and other sites. They have 200 special digital cameras for digitizing records, currently out in 45 countries. They have records from 110 countries around the world. Seriously, it's the all-you-can-eat-buffet of genealogy.

If you are lucky enough to be able to go to Utah to do genealogy for a couple days, this is definitely the place you will spend most of your time. They give tours, orientations, hold classes, and are staffed by genealogists and volunteers who are happy to help with any problems. I won't go into how to prepare for a trip there, because they already have a tips page online.

Now, if you are not so lucky to spend the day in Utah doing just genealogy, there are other options to access the info contained there. They loan out their microfilm for viewing at local family history library branches. Chances are there is one close to you (or at least closer than Utah). For a reasonably small fee you can order microfilm to be sent to your local family history center, and you get an e-mail when it arrives. Then you just go to the library and view it as much as you want for a couple weeks, and it gets sent back when you are through. It's pretty cool.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that not all microfilm is able to be loaned out. This can be frustrating. But, if there is a book or film that can't be sent to you, and you know the info you need is in there, you can do a photo-duplication request. This isn't for having someone else do the research for you, but if you have enough information for the form and just want a copy of the original record, this is a great service (and free!). For books and some films, they need a page number. If you don't have one, you can request copies of select pages of the index, then using that find the page number you need and send a new request for the exact record. How cool is that!

So, whether you can visit in person, have stuff delivered to you, or just use the online duplication service, the Family History Library in Utah is a great resource to check out.

Family History Month Day 8: Traveling to the Homeland

I know that traveling to visit the places your ancestors lived isn't always possible. Sure, sometimes they just lived in the next town over and you can visit in a weekend, but what about when they are from far away? Not so easy, now is it?

I personally live no where near any of the places my ancestors lived (unless you count my parents). The closest place to me is Utah, a 15 hour non-stop drive away. But, I have been there, and seen some of the places my family comes from. We hope to do a roadtrip next year to visit family that still lives there. But, it will take at least a week, so it'll have to wait for spring break or summer vacation.

Last year I was also blessed to be able to travel to Europe with my family (3 weeks, 4 kids, 9 countries, military aircraft, backpacking...I'm tired just thinking about it). While we didn't stop too long in any one place, we did make sure to visit some of the hometowns of my immigrant ancestors. This probably not something we will get to do again anytime soon, if ever. So we took advantage of the trip and did some genealogy traveling along the way. I didn't do research while I was there, the language barrier and time constraints didn't allow for it, but I did take pictures and just see the sites.

And for those of us who can't just pick up and travel anywhere whenever we feel like it, there is always Google Maps (or other map sites) and Flickr (tons of historic photos on there, even Library of Congress photos). You can find historic photos of the towns, current views of the house they lived in, or see what got built on the old family farm now that it's not a farm. There are lots of cool things to be found on the internet. You can travel the world from your couch :)

Family History Month Day 7: Surname Origins

Surnames are interesting. They can come from many different places. Just yesterday I read an article from Ancestry talking about the origins of English surnames. I think it can hold true for many other countries as well.
Some common origins of surnames include occupation, places, characteristics, and ancestry.
For myself, I know that Turner and Carpenter are definitely occupations and Merryweather has to do with someone who is cheerful (a sunny disposition). De Valkeneer is a Falconer, or someone who trains and hunts with falcons (sometimes for royalty). It's not English, but like I said, many other languages/countries use similar naming methods.
If you are unsure about some of your ancestors surnames, you can check them out at Ancestry. It has origins when available, and statistics from all it's records. Pretty neat.

Family History Month Day 6: Photographing Cemeteries

This spring I started going to local cemeteries. Not because I have any relatives buried there, but because other people do. I used my smart phone to photograph the gravestones for BillionGraves. It is very cool to be able to record the exact location via GPS for each headstone, and then transcribe them for a searchable index. The BillionGraves index is connected to FamilySearch database.
FindAGrave is a similar free service. But, instead of using your phone, you use a camera and upload the photos when you get to a computer. Their database is much larger. Of course, they have been around longer. This site is connected to Ancestry.
Both sites are totally worth it to join (especially considering they are both free). Sometimes one will have cemeteries that the other doesn't. And, both happily accept volunteers to photograph and transcribe graves. I personally have found several interesting family graves through these sites.
So, if you are looking for a fairly quick and easy project to do for Family History Month, check out these sites and volunteer to spend some time hanging out in a cemetery.

Family History Month Day 5: Maps

I love old maps. And new maps. There can be so much information contained in a map. And as a very visual learner, I often need maps to help me in family history. Sometimes I simply look things up on Google or other map sites. But sometimes you also need to look at historical maps. Lucky for us, many historical maps are online, and free to view.
My father's family mostly comes from Belgium. For Christmas one year I bought and framed a map of Belgium from the time period just prior to his family immigrating (late 1800's). Not too much has changed as far as town names goes, but it's still a great reference map. I also have old maps of Fiji and India, where my husband's family comes from.
For the family history scrapbook I made my father I used local maps to show the areas his family lived. Some city or county maps even show who the land owners were and where their farms where. It is so cool to see one of your family names on a map, showing exactly where they lived.
A great way to spend family history month would be to gather old maps from the places your ancestors lived.

Family History Month Day 4: Social Media

With todays technology it can be easier than ever to find distant relatives. Social media and family history websites can connect us to family we didn't even know existed.
I was researching a family line on night and came across a name that looked promising on a family history website. I sent a message to the person who posted the name, and ended up finding a distant cousin. She really helped me open up that side of the family and pointed me in the direction of a new source for documents.
On Facebook an aunt of mine started a private group for our family history. We have shared photos and stories and information on our shared genealogy. And my husband has also made some great contacts within his family to learn more about where he comes from.
Also on Facebook there are tons of genealogy groups that you can join. Not just particular family groups, but locations as well. Many genealogical societies have pages and the members are very helpful. So, if you have a location from your ancestors you want to get more information from, this is a great place to look. Members often have access to, and are willing to look up information from, local histories and documents. This is great when the info isn't online elsewhere and you can't afford a trip across the country, or world.
So, I encourage you to check out social media sites, and connect with people on family history sites as well. You may just find the person with all the information you have been looking for.

Family History Month Day 3: Personal History

Today I think I'll share one of my favorite sites for family history. You aren't going to guess it. It's not FamilySearch, or Ancestry or any of those types of sites. It's the This Is Me Challenge blog.
It's one of my favorites because it's about recording my own personal history and things all about me.
While it's great that we find out about our ancestors, we should also take some time and find out about ourselves. And then record it for future generations.
I know some people think that their lives aren't interesting enough for anyone to want to read about. But, if you found a personal journal of one of your great-grandparents, wouldn't you just love it? Even if it was filled with the boring everyday things they thought no one would care to know about. So you might not be writing this for your own kids, but some day you could have great-grandkids that would love to know more about you.
This particular blog is great for me because I don't feel like I have to sit down and write a chronological rendering of my life so far. It breaks things up into small 'challenges' and gives more insight than a timeline of events would.
There are challenges like "what numbers best represent you", "how has technology changed since you were a kid", "what are your greatest fears/phobias", and "what is the story behind your name". These would all make great scrapbook pages, because we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.
Along with this site, there is an LDS version, and a 'for kids' section about recording your kids' lives.
So, maybe this month while you are thinking about family history, you can take some time to record a little of your own history.

Family History Month Day 2: Indexing

One quick family history related activity is indexing records. FamilySearch is a free website with tons of records online. Many of which are searchable. The way they get there is volunteers indexing the records. FamilySearch Indexing is a great way to 'pay it forward' with family history, and maybe you'll even find your own relatives while you're at it.
Some projects take a little as 5 minutes at a time. Others take a longer, but even just doing one will make a difference. There is even a mobile app for indexing on the go (waiting in a doctors office? why not index some records). If you speak a language other than English, there are lots of foreign projects with not enough indexers, so it's definitely a need that's worth looking in to.
They currently have over 1.2 billion records completely indexed, and almost 500 projects running currently. I'm sure you can find something to help with and keep that number of FREE records climbing.

October is Family History Month! Day 1: Genealogy with Kids

A whole month dedicated to family history? Sign my up!
I thought I'd start out the month by looking into ways to involve my kids in family history. They are too young to do records research, but they are never to young to learn about genealogy. A study by Emory University showed that children who knew about their family history had better emotional well-being and faced challenges better. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. Sounds about right.
So here are some kid-friendly family history ideas
Create a timeline
Start with just a few generations back and look at the dates of different events in their lives. Births, deaths, marriages. You could also include some world/nation-wide events to put things into historical perspective.
Fill out a pedigree chart
There are lots of cute free 4 generation charts online that you can print and fill out. For younger kids, find one that they can color.
Interview an older relative
Have them visit or call an older family member and ask them questions about their life. Where they were born, what school they went to, favorite toy, favorite birthday, first job, what were their parents like...These are all great questions to get the conversation started.
Make a scrapbook
Make copies of family photos and have the kids create a scrapbook. Label the photos and talk about the stories that go with them. This is a great activity for kids who like cutting, coloring, and gluing things.
Make a family history Guess Who game
If you have lots of family portraits, you can make a personalized game of Guess Who. You may choose to just include living relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents), or go further back in the family tree and just use direct line ancestors.
I hope you make time this month to share some family history with your kids!