Today on June 14th we recognize Family History day. A few days ago we talked about family gatherings. Attending weddings, graduations and family reunions. These are perfect occasions to learn about your family history. Not only do you have the chance to visit with your family members, but you can also learn about your family's past, while making new memories in the present.
Some good tools to have on hand are:
- Tape recorders
- Pen and paper
- List of questions
Write down specific questions you may have about your family. Hopefully you will be able to find the answers at a family event. Ask a relative to describe how life was when they were young, or share stories about past family events. Make sure to tape record them so you can pass them on to future generations. Take lots of pictures! Make sure you write the names, dates, and relationship.
We have some enterprising family members who searched the family line and put the information in books for us. I recently received a cd from my uncle who recorded my grandfather talking about life when he was a boy, and the time he spent with his brothers and sisters. It was so wonderful just being able to hear his voice again! Several years ago I found some photo albums that allowed you to record a message on each page. I got 3 of them and gave 2 to my grandmother to record messages about some of her old family photos. I then gave one to my mother and the other to her sister. Now that she is no longer with us, it is very special to be able to open these books and hear her describe parts of her history. The third one I gave to my parents to record events for my son, but they still haven't gotten around to that!
With the availability of cameras it is simple to take snapshots anywhere you are. Most are downloaded onto flash drives, or computers, but it is also important to print some of your family and keep them in a book. Make sure you write on the back the name and date. Not just for you, but for future generations to have.
These days you can find recordable books for kids. I got one for my husband's grandson, The Night Before Christmas. Now that my husband is gone, his grandson will still be able to hear him reading that story to him, keeping his memory alive.
Another really cool thing is a journal for grandparents. It lists pages of questions that talk about all kinds of events and day to day living that is filled out by the grandparent. You can find one here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/grandparents-journal?9gtype=search&9gkw=grandmothers%20journal&9gad=7166897097&gclid=CN2U6dXZnqkCFZBS2godGx4_Jw
Another good source for finding out about family history is the Family Bible. After my husband passed away I took his family Bible and made copies of the family history section and newspaper clippings and other documents that were placed in there. I sent the Bible to one of his son's, then gave copies to the others so each would have a record of their history.
There is a website http://www.ancestry.com/home/lo/merlin?abname=MerlinFreeImageTest_26052011&abvalue=Loggedout_merlincontrol26052, where you can go to find out more about your history. I love watching the commercials for Ancestry.com and hear how others made fascinating discoveries in their family. My Uncle, who is a civil war buff, went to ancestry.com and was able to research some of our family's involvement in the Civil war. As the commercial says, you never know what you will find until you start looking.
Even though the future is not certain, it's always nice to see where we've been, and how we got to where we are. So take some time today and find out a little about your history and write it down for future generations.