Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 ways to involve your family in Family History

I think I'll use this blog to mirror and enrich some of the articles from our newletters. If you are on our newsletter, you get a refresher--with some insights I've added. If you aren't, you can be.

5 Ways to Involve your Family in Family History

Start with the interesting stuff. "Rich Media," items such as pictures, videos, stories and audio are your best allies in the quest to win hearts. Do you have pictures of great-grandpa that look just like your son? These are pictures of my husband and his brother, and my dad and his brother. You can bet I have a matching picture of my sons.

Know your target audience. What kinds of things are they interested in? If your brother is interested in cars, show him what your grandfather was driving. Son interested in legos? Have him build a replica of the family home for display at the reunion. And if you have any computer or scrapbooking enthusiasts in your family, I'm sure you'll be able to come up with something.

Take them with you. Share with your family the places their history began--from your childhood home, to your great-grandfather's. One of the most moving motherhood experiences I've ever had was the time I took my kids to the church and school where I lived when I was their age. It felt like time collapsed and I could see such perspective on my life. There are also many living-history sites/museums that can teach them about the time period their ancestors lived in. Have a family outing together and then tell them about the people who lived there and then. My kids and I have had a wonderful time the last two summers volunteering at the pioneer village near our home. They know how an ox team feels and works together, how to re-thread a loom, how to beat rugs, and how to give it 10 minutes until their imagination kicks back in from their plugged-in world.

Surround yourself with your history. Of course Generation Maps' charts and canvas portrait giclees are a beautiful way to display what you have researched. But any way you do it, make sure your family history is out where you can see it. When your living family members see how important it is to you, they will begin to be curious about where they come from as well.

Share Traditions. While many of the things you do probably have roots in the family you grew up in, make sure your family knows where those ideas came from. While you are eating Grandma's cottage cheese pancakes, tell your family about what a wonderful cook Grandma was, and how she was so patient all the time. Or when you are fixing the car, tell your child about Grandpa's innate mechanical genius that probably runs in their dna too. My mom has promised to teach my kids to make her grandmother's honey candy this weekend. They are looking forward to it. Anything sugar.

The broad perspective, sense of gratitude, and feeling of being anchored that your family's history brings will be a great benefit to those around you. Best wishes for sharing what you have learned and inspiring your living loved ones.

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