When I was working on the coal mining essay, I called my Uncle Bill. As we talked, I realized he had never seen his father’s hand written, personal history. He didn’t even know it existed. I went digging to find my copy. Found it! I excitedly scanned the document and emailed it to my 87 year old uncle. Now that was really, really fun!!!
Since my grandpa wrote his story in cursive, I’m in the process of typing it, so that younger generations will be able to read it. Hey, I just read that Butch Cassidy robbed my great uncle during a train ride. When I finish transcribing the record, I’ll attach it in FamilySearch.org, and you can read it for yourself.
My family and friends were wondering when I would introduce you to the world of family history :). Genealogy was the old terminology, documenting who is connected to who by focusing on names, dates, and places. Family History is the new subject and includes the genealogy part, but it also brings people to life through their stories, pictures, and documents.
Summer is a great time to explore your family history. Holidays, reunions, weddings, and summer vacations often equate to family gatherings, a perfect time to talk family history. Plus, kids are out of school, and you are looking for something productive to keep them busy. This is it! Pair your child’s computer skills with grandpa’s knowledge of who’s who, and you’ve got the perfect match. What a great way to build a bond and fun memories!
Start at home with these four steps.
- Record what you know – names, dates and places of birth, marriage, death and residences. If you don’t have exact dates or places, then estimate them. Google “pedigree chart” for a worksheet to print and fill in your information.
- Gather photographs, journals, and documents that you may have. Organize them in one place.
- Talk with your family – you really need to capture what is in their head before it is too late. Do they know names, dates and places? Do they have documents or photos? Can they identify who is in photos? Collect copies of what they have.
- Record your relatives telling stories. Video, audio, or written, whatever works best for them.
Here is where you tell me that your family history has already been done by a cousin. Unless they have been researching in the last six months, they are probably missing information. The amount of records available online (we’re talking in the billions) has grown exponentially over the last three years. Everyday there are new records added.
Next you say that you have a book. The way of the future is digital. I have several different books, but I also have eight children. Who gets which book? Photographs and paper documents are easily discarded or destroyed. Digitized records can be disseminated to a variety of people.
Then you explain how you once started researching your family history, but it became too expensive to continue. Have I got a deal for you. How about free? Free records, free website to record it, and free consultant help. No strings attached, no unwanted soliciting.
We’ll talk next month about how to access all the free help, but you’re not ready for that. You have some homework to do first, so start gathering your family information, pictures, and stories from around your house and your relatives. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you will have.