Monday, October 22, 2018

Family History Month

Family History Month is almost over but here are some ideas for how to celebrate your history this month:
  • Make an old family recipe. After enjoying your meal, record whose recipe it is and why it is a family favorite. Try finding and making other family recipes. 
  •  Visit the cemetery. Find your ancestors' gravesites. Take photographs, record information, and do some tombstone rubbings.
  • Interview relatives. Ask questions about their lives. Record an oral history or incorporate their responses into your written family history.  
  • Create a scrapbook. Preserve and share old photographs and documents in scrapbooks or photobooks. Record the names and dates of people in the photos. 
  • Write your story. Start writing about your life. Use writing prompts from FamilySearch's #52stories to help you get started. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Family History Writing

How do you write an interesting family history?

Of course you want to include all the names and dates and events you've uncovered but to make your family history more engaging, you'll need to personalize the story and add social context.

Here are a few writing prompts that personalize and add interest to a family story:

  • How has your research changed your view of your family history? 
  • Was your family’s life impacted by important historical events? 
  • Has your research given you a better understanding of US history? What about the history of your family’s homeland? 
  • Have you visited a location where an ancestor lived? What does it look like now? What would it have looked like when your ancestor lived there? 
  • Do you remember any stories your grandparents told you about their lives or the lives of their parents or grandparents? Has your research backed up those stories? 
  • Do you know how your grandparents met and fell in love? How about your parents? 
  • Have you inherited any family heirlooms? Are there stories associated with these keepsakes? 
  • Write about an ancestor you find particularly fascinating. Why does their life interest you? If you could have a conversation with that ancestor, what would you ask?

Add social context to flesh out your ancestors' lives. To do this, look at the facts of your ancestors' lives and start asking yourself questions. For example: Did they live in the same place their entire lives? What was that place like? What was their occupation and what would their responsibilities in that job have been? Were they religious? What holidays would they have celebrated? You will want to think about the following themes when adding social context:

  • Emigration & Immigration 
  • Geography & Environment 
  • Property & Housing 
  • Community & Neighbors 
  • Ethnic Groups 
  • Religious Affiliations 
  • Childbirth & Childrearing 
  • Education 
  • Occupations 
  • Culinary Traditions 
  • Military Experience 
  • Civic Engagement 
  • Fashion 
  • Hobbies & Sports 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Beginning Genealogy

Here are a few beginner tips from yesterday's Beginning Genealogy class:

  • Start with yourself and move backwards one generation at a time
  • Look for family history clues in old documents, diaries, and newspapers that you may have at home
  • Interview family members 
  • Fill out pedigree charts and family group sheets to keep track of what data you have collected
  • Use online databases like Ancestry or FamilySearch to search for census records, vital records, and other documents but don't forget to contact and visit court houses, archives, libraries, and local historical societies to find documents that have not been digitized
  • Keep research logs to record your sources

Happy Searching!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Polish Genealogy Tours

Travel with the Polish Genealogical Society of America next year! PGSA has announced their 2019 genealogy tour schedule.

Research in Polish archives, visit beautiful towns, and discover Polish history and culture with PGSA. You can also schedule pre- or post-tour individual genealogical services. Next year's tours focus on Prussian Poland or Austro-Hungarian Galicia.