Celebrate Family History Month

When I took a subway ride to E Harlem to visit the site where my family lived for almost 50 yrs

When I took a subway ride to E Harlem to visit the site where my family lived for almost 50 yrs

How to Celebrate Family History Month

What are the best ways to celebrate Family History Month? The following are ways you can do just that while getting the whole family involved.

1. Interview Relatives. Interviewing older relatives about family stories is a great way to document all the old family lore. Be prepared to take notes or record your interview on your cell phone or other recording device. You will be surprised at where your follow-up questions take the story. Make sure to have plenty of memory on your recording device as the interviews, and follow-up questions, always tend to run on longer than anticipated 

2. Start a Family Scrapbook. Ask family members for photos in either physical or digital form. If family members have scanned some of their photos, ask them to email to you. Relatives are usually more than happy to share their digital memories because it is quite easy to email their pictures if they are already scanned. And if they don’t have them scanned already, it’s a good excuse for them to go through their old photo albums and scrapbooks and digitize their own pictures. Once you have some good historical family pictures gathered, print them out on good photo paper and make a new family scrapbook full of all those old memories. 

3. Collect Family Recipes. Was there a favorite dish at the family Thanksgiving table each year? Did your favorite aunt always bring the best pie to the family pot luck? What a wonderful way to remember all those family holidays by gathering up all those yummy family recipes. It might be a good idea to ask for recipes when asking relatives for any family pictures they might have. This will get them thinking about their own family memories and, before you know it, your email box will have pictures and recipes in it from several branches of the tree. You might get lucky and score that favorite recipe from Grandma. 

4. Take an Ancestral Trip. By that I mean visit someplace in your family background. One of the best ways we can revisit our family history is by visiting a place that was once important to the family. Did your family live in a particular place for an extended period? Are you able to visit any of your old schools? Where did your grandparents live? Some places have historical maps in the local public library (I know NYPL has historical maps online from when my ancestors lived there from the early 1900s through the late 1950s). The photo on the left is me when I took a trip (ok, a subway ride) to East Harlem to visit the site of where my family lived for almost 50 years. The building was torn down in the late 1950s and a new housing project built in the early 1960s which still stands there today and that’s where I was touring. 

5. Start a Family Tree. It’s easy to start a family tree for free using FamilySearch.org. You are required to create a free account and log in each time you want to access your family tree. FamilySearch is a terrific free website to do family research, but it is also one of the best resources for building a family tree. Not only can you make the tree, you can also organize your research, and attach supporting documents. This is so important and makes it extremely easy when your research starts to become overwhelming. There is even an option to print a person or family’s history with supporting documents attached.