Articles, activities for boomers & seniors
Do I want to start this effort?
This is the first decision you need to make, but keep in mind that this kind of project can be whatever size you want it to be. Like most projects it is best to take “baby steps”. Don’t expect to have your whole family history generations deep within a couple of months. It takes time and as importantly it needs.
What is genealogy? What is heritage?
Genealogy is the study of a family’s origins and history and is often referred to as a family history. In the past family histories were kept orally or in some cases through written records. An advantage we have now is that records created now can be kept indefinitely in digital form.
The genealogy of each and every family is unique, it is a personal history that has been handed down through the generations, whether via oral tradition or written texts. The ability to be able to trace one’s lineage is both enlightening and profoundly rewarding, and as one journeys through their family genealogy you cannot help but become more aware of who they are as an individual, and what their calling in life is. Exploring one’s heritage can open up new doors of opportunity to travel and visit the homeland(s) of their ancestry. It can also offer the unique opportunity to learn, and in some cases revive, the language of ancestors.
It makes sense to start small – start with your immediate family. Talk to them to find out if they have information that may help you on this journey. Don’t try to do too much at first. Invaluable aids would include books on genealogy and an easy to use software product designed especially for connecting the family dots. A couple of books that can help you with your family genealogy include: The Family Toolkit by Kenyata Berry. Organize Your Genealogy by Drew Smith and Family Tree Memory Keeper by Allison Dolan.
Get the immediate family to join in. Grandkids are great at asking questions and the grandparents are happy to entertain them with family history. This is a good time to collect some photos and any written histories of the family. If you have software you can enter the information and start to build the family tree and history.
Once you get a bit further along you can ask other family members to help. Most people are willing to help (as long as you do the work and not them). Gentle encouragement will prod the family to dig up stuff and open long forgotten boxes of memorabilia hidden away in the attic.
Spread the Word – Build a website
Nowadays it is a lot easier to reach out to those who are distant. Building a website is a very simple process. You can do it yourself or if you prefer you can have someone get it started for you. Once you have some of the family on it you will be surprised how much cooperation you can get from others.
Preserving documents and photos
Buy a good scanner and use it to scan photos and put them in digital form. You can then pop the photos into the software program. This will also help preserve delicate items such as old birth records, wedding announcements and the like. You can even scan items such as medals, jewelry and other family heirlooms.
It’s a great ride.
Get started now and get the project going. You will enjoy it. Good luck and enjoy the memories.