October is such a great month. The first autumn chill, the beauty of the changing leaves, college football, the excitement of Halloween, and the prelude to the holidays are just a few reasons to love this time of year. For genealogists, however, there’s one more reason: October is also National Family History Month in the United States! Many of our readers have used the research services of Legacy Tree Genealogists and/or have spent countless hours themselves uncovering their family’s history. After you have discovered and embraced the heritage given to you from your ancestors, you may wish to share this excitement with others – especially your children and grandchildren – in the hopes that they will cherish their heritage as much as you do. With that goal in mind, especially since this whole month has been designated to celebrate Family History, the following are eight fun ways to help the rising generation embrace and appreciate their heritage:
1. Use Social Media
Instagram is a popular social network application based on photo sharing. It is fun to use and a great way to connect with the younger generation. Upload from your phone into Instagram a fabulous old photo of your ancestor. Share your photo with your Instagram contacts and family members on other social networks. If you prefer Facebook, you can create entire albums of old family photos with captions that your friends and family can comment on, share, and download.
For a tutorial on how to use Instagram, start here: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Instagram.
2. Plan an Interactive Family History Field Trip
Plan a family history field trip to your ancestral hometown. Carefully plan out the itinerary and be sure to include a fun place to eat. Rent a large van, cram everyone in, and be the tour guide as you drive around the town. While a family vacation to Ireland or Germany would be a pretty cool application of this idea, you don’t have to break the bank to make it work. Save money and give your American ancestors some love!
Give every participant a SMASH book. SMASH books are a hot trend in the scrapbooking industry, and are basically a blank book wherein memories are “smashed,” like a movie ticket taped onto the pages, a note from a cute boy stapled in, or a memorable quote scribbled on the margin. For your family history field trip, either purchase official SMASH notebooks, or provide any notebook for each participant. As you are driving to your destination, hand out a map of the old hometown and allow the participants to “smash” that into their notebooks using supplies such as staplers, clear tape, colorful washi tape, or glue sticks. When you arrive at the ancestor’s home, hand out pre-printed photographs of what the house used to look like and as you are standing in front of that house, and tell stories while the participants “smash” the photo into their notebooks. As you are standing in front of an ancestor’s grave, hand out photos of that ancestor and allow the participants to “smash” in that photo while you relate a story about that ancestor. While viewing the old workplace of an ancestor, hand out watercolor pencils and let each participant sketch what they see. Be sure to record the fun events of the day with still shots and a home movie, great ways to remember your family learning about their ancestors.
3. Play Ancestral Monopoly
Dust off your old Monopoly game and fashion your own game board using unique properties related to your ancestors. For markers, use copies of photographs of your ancestors that have been adhered to stiff paper and attached to a stand.
4. Take a Tour of a FamilySearch Discovery Center
Opened in February 2015, The FamilySearch Discovery Center is “a high-tech, high-dazzle experience for acquainting people with their individual family heritage.” Lovingly referred to as the “museum of me,” this facility allows the participant to move through hands-on activities based around their own family’s history. For example, one of seven stations allows the participant to record their life story. Another helps the participant see her ancestors’ international migration.
Two discovery centers are currently available to the public: one in Salt Lake City and the other in Seattle. Look for another coming soon to Philadelphia. For more information click here: https://familysearch.org/discoverycenter
5. Join a Genealogy Society
If you need a break from convincing the kids, do something for yourself, and join a genealogy society! I recently joined a local association and have enjoyed receiving their quarterly publication that is still delivered the delicious old-fashioned way – a paper magazine in my mailbox. Even better was the access that I gained to their library of fantastic webinar classes including an informative class that I highly enjoyed called Finding your Irish Ancestors.
6. Craft a Christmas Ornament
Obtain a clear glass ornament sold at craft stores. Affix a small photograph of your ancestor or of an ancestral home to a clear plastic flexible circle the same circumference as the ornament and insert that circle into the ornament. Use decals to decorate the exterior of the ornament. Give these as gifts. After all, Christmas is a time of family – past and present.
7. Make an Ancestral Scrapbook
Create a visual work about your ancestors, something that condenses the vast information you’ve learned to something short and concise that anyone can read in a few moments. Keep the layout clean and repeat the elements of design such as color and fonts and shapes. This could take the form of a handmade paper scrapbook, an online blog with regular featured articles, even a professionally printed photo book. For the latter, check out Snapfish, Shutterfly, Blurb, MyPublisher, or MixBook, which are just a few of the many companies which offer this service.
8. Cook a Meal
Celebrating your heritage can even be done by something as common as cooking a meal. If you know what country your ancestors came from, consider finding recipes for “local” cuisine, and prepare and serve a meal made up of those foods this month. If you have kids, invite them to help you prepare the food, and talk to them about your ancestors while you cook. If you don’t cook, see if there is a restaurant in your area that offers food from your family’s country of origin, and take your family out!
These ideas and many more will help generate the love you have for your ancestors in those family members who have yet to become acquainted with their heritage. Along with apple cider and pumpkin pie this October, serve a piece of your family’s history as well.
Note: Legacy Tree Genealogists is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post. If you would like help learning more about your family history, contact Legacy Tree today by phone or email to talk about your goals and speak with a project manager.