19    Sep 20103 comments

Diaries: A family history source

keeping a journalTake it from a writer: The more you write, the easier it becomes. Why not keep a journal or diary?

Journals and diaries are excellent resources for family history research.

Don't you wish your ancestors had recorded their daily lives and thoughts in a format that has come down to you as a treasured keepsake through the centuries?

I know someone whose ancestor left a journal written several hundred years ago. The writer describes the family's everyday life in difficult new surroundings, how they celebrated holidays, the writer's wishes for her descendants far in the future and much more. It is as if the writer knew it would be treasured and passed down through the generations, as it has been. It is a priceless heirloom.

Put yourself in the shoes of a great-grandchild who finds your journal. What do you think will interest him or her? What is happening in your life now that you want future generations to know about? Do you want to include advice for future generations?

Continue reading "Diaries: A family history source" »

2    Oct 20083 comments

Family History Month: Celebrate your family

Family History Month is celebrated during October in the United States.

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From Scrapbookinghow.com

Museums, archives, libraries, genealogy societies, ethnic heritage societies and other organizations plan special events focused on the increasingly popular search for ancestral roots. These include classes, lectures, book festivals, exhibits and family history fairs

A recent Google search for "Family History Month," produced some 11,400 results. Amazing! Readers can further refine this search by adding a geographical location or ethnic term. A search for - "Family History Month" Poland - showed nearly 700 hits, while "Family History Month" New York - showed more than 1,800 results.

Make a good start by beginning your search and enter the information online in MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder. Interview senior family members and record the answers (on paper and video); learn about your family's health health history and genetic conditions; or create a cookbook from traditional family favorites.

Scrapbooking is a popular way to organize family history; there are many free or low-cost kits that can be downloaded for personal use, such as this one from ScrapbookScrapbook.com.

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A family tree chart in Spanish from Scrapbookinghow.com

Have you thought about organizing a roots trip to visit the places your family came from? Use this month to complete some of your projects, such as labeling family photographs. Use the new Photo Match feature here at MyHeritage to help locate individuals in your photos, and update your family site with new information.

A few nights ago, in fact, I had a call from a friend who wanted to let a far-off branch of the family see their family's information. How could she make it easy for them to update family information?

I suggested she create a MyHeritage site for that branch and give her contact in that branch access to update information. In a short time, the site was organized and her cousin was in the process of adding details, including recent marriages, births and new photographs. An new exciting new feature is Photo Tagging; take a tour here to learn how this can help your own research.

Did you know that you can create a genealogy site, immediate or extended family site, community or common interest site, among others?

Why not learn a poem or song or simple words or greetings in the native language of an immigrant ancestor?

The month-long celebration is also a good time to get the kids involved in roots pursuit.

Be creative: create a puppet family, make people-shaped cookies, have children draw pictures of a favorite holiday, foods and depict show their family celebrating the holiday. What about drawing the family house, or a grandparents' home?

Here are three good sites for involving children in family history:

- Family Crafts for some excellent ideas for children's activities.

- The New York Historical Association for an article with interesting suggestions and resources.

- Parents' Choice for an excellent article on preserving your family's history, complete with great activities, workbooks and story books (including those for various ethnic origins) for children.

The National Register of Historic Places (under the National Park Service) offers several lesson plans for Teaching with Historic Places. Topics include Abraham Lincoln, African-American life; civilian recollections of the Civil War; life on small islands off Maine's coast; and many others.

For adults, there are many choices, such as the California Genealogical Societ, which has a brochure listing all sorts of classes and events for this special month. Choose from a range of introductory, beginner and advanced classes, and even a book repair workshop.

Check our your local genealogy society and see what programs are offered during October.

What are you doing to celebrate Family History Month? I'm looking forward to reading your comments.

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