Did you know that there is a whole month dedicated to genealogy? Well, National Family History Month is all about finding your roots and discovering who your ancestors were.
Read on as I will suggest 15 activities that will connect you with them.
Please note that you do not have to do all of these activities, but the more that you do then the more that you will have uncovered about your ancestors.
National Family History Month – October
National Family History Month – August (Australia)
The 15 Activities for National Family History Month
I have previously discussed the first ten activities in greater detail within my 10 Ways To Find Your Family History post.
Because of this I will just briefly cover these 10 ways as they are still fun, exciting and helpful ways that you can use to explore your genealogy and find out who your ancestors were.
1. Start with yourself
The first obvious step to discovering your family history is to write down what you already know. And to do this you start with yourself.
You can record your name, date and place of birth, and any other details that you feel is relevant.
Once you have done that then you can move on to your parents. Ask what you know about them, and repeat the process up your family tree.
You may know all the vital information for your grandparents and possibly for your great grandparents as well.
2. Look around your home
After you have carried out the first activity it is then time to look around your home.
You will be amazed at how much useful information that is inside your house, within drawers or shoe boxes, down the basement or up in the attic.
This information can be in the form of certificate, such as a birth certificate.
Or, you may come across discharge papers for your grandfather at thge end of the Second World War.
You just don’t know what you will discover. And as Ancestry says, “You just need to look“.
3. Ask your relatives for help
The third step in this process, and maybe the most exciting so far, would have to be asking your living relatives for any help that they could give you to find out who your ancestors were.
They could be your parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, or cousins.
My Top 20 Family History Interview Questions post will provide you with some great questions that you can ask them.
Besides that I also discuss how you may carry out the interview, whether in person or over the phone, and many tips as well.
4. Check out local archives and library
There is a ton of information that is waiting for you at your local archives and library as well. The archives will contain many records about your ancestors.
These can include certificates as I have mentioned before, but also military records, wills, land and property records, and so on
My Plan a Visit To The Archives post will help you get the most from your trip to the archives.
The library has also been a great help with my own family history.
Their local history section gave me an insight into what the area was like where my ancestor lived and also what job opportunities were available for my ancestors.
5. Check out genealogical societies
You can call them genealogical societies if you live in the United States. If you’re from the United Kingdom then you will probably refer to them as family history societies.
Whatever you call them they will still be of great help to you, especially if you are lost and don’t know what you are doing. Or you may have hit a brick wall.
These societies usually publish guide books on the local area as well records and registers of places of worship and education.
Not only can you get this valuable information from them but the advice that you can get from the more experienced members and staff can help you on your family history journey.
6. Visit cemeteries
If you do live within the area of where your ancestors once lived, or are close by, then why not visit some cemeteries.
You may find this morbid or maybe ghoulish but you can find plenty of details by doing so.
That is of course that you find their grave. But if you already know where your ancestor lived then they could possibly be buried at the closest church.
If you are fortunate to find their gravestone then you can get valuable information such as when they died, how old they were when they died, and also maybe spouse, parent or children details as well.
7. Check out genealogy sites
If you are tech savvy then you may wish to find out about your ancestors by getting online and checking out the many different genealogy search websites that are available.
This is one activity that I have used countless times to find out about my ancestors.
Because they contained so many records there was always the possibility that I would find something. And it definitely kept me busy.
There are other genealogy search sites that you can visit besides these main two. There is MyHeritage, Archives and Genealogy Bank to name but a few.
Please be prepared though with these sites as you will need to pay a subscription in order to search and access the records held within their databases.
It is definitely worth it!
There are free sites that you can visit if you do not wish to spend any money.
My 10 Free Genealogy Sites post will show you where you can find them.
8. Try a Google search
Ah yes, good old Google. As the saying goes you can find almost anything on the Internet so why not use the world’s most powerful search engine to find your ancestors.
You may be surprised as to what you will find and where you will find it.
It maybe a bit hit and miss when entering your ancestor’s name into the search engine but it is still definitely worth a shot.
But if you aren’t getting anywhere with your search you may wish to check out the Google for Genealogy Premium Collection.
This great collection of guides will show you how you can get the most out of Google and find your ancestors records.
9. Do a DNA genealogy test
DNA testing has come along way since it first became publicized in the late 1990s.
It has become very popular thanks to companies such as AncestryDNA who keep advertising how they can help you with your genealogy research.
Ancestry though isn’t the only company that provides such a service. There is 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage among others.
These companies will test a sample of your saliva or a swab and compare it with a sample of DNA within their collection.
From this comparison they can then determine where in the world your ancestors originated.
One other great advantage of these companies is that they can match you with people who share a common ancestor, i.e. they can connect you with a living relative.
Being able to make this connection is another opportunity that you can share information and get more information about your ancestors.
10. Hire a professional genealogist
You may decide to hire a professional genealogist, or rather a genealogy freelancer, maybe the way to go for you.
And that’s quite alright because we do have other commitments such as work or family, or whatever.
We may have even hit a brick wall in our research and just can’t seem to overcome it.
So, why not ask a professional for help?
Do be prepared though that this can be costly. And you will have to be specific about what you are after before you settle on a fee.
11. Preserve your family heirlooms
If you have looked around your home for information about your ancestors chances are that you will have come across family heirlooms. These could medals, coins, jewelry, or silverware.
No matter what you find that is connected with your ancestors you will surely want to preserve them for future generations.
If you do not take the time to look after these priceless heirlooms they will unfortunately be lost in time. What a waste?
My How To Preserve Your Family Treasures post will give you practical tips on how you can preserve all articles that you may find around your home.
12. Preserve your old family photos and create a scrapbook
Old family photographs are another family heirloom that you can preserve for future generations.
Within the Old Family Photos section of this site I share tips that you can use to not only preserve these photographs but also how to date them, scan them, store them and also how to identify who is in them.
If you are more of a creative person then you may want to put together a scrapbook containing these old family photographs.
It can also be a wonderful activity that you can share with all of your family.
So why not get the kids involved and show them who their ancestors were and what you know about them?
13. Check out my find your roots collection
Finding out that your ancestors came from a foreign country can be an exciting discovery. But this excitement can quickly turn to frustration when you do not know where to look or even how to find what you are looking for.
That is where my Find Your Roots section of this site will show you guides to help you to discover your British, Canadian, German, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Native American, New York or Scandinavian ancestry.
14. Create a family history book and a cookbook
One of the great ways to preserving your family history is to write your very own book detailing the lives of your ancestors.
This, as I have covered many times before within this site, is how I became interested in my family history.
My interest in preserving my ancestors stories quickly became a fascination into who they were, where they came from and what else that I could find out about them.
If you do not feel that you are cut out to become a writer then do not worry.
There are plenty of family tree books available where you can fill in the blanks with the information that you know.
Once complete then these can make great presents that you can then pass on to your children.
A cookbook of old family recipes is another great activity that you can share with your family. You may know these off by heart or you may have them written down on scraps of paper.
Well, why not record them in a book?
15. Visit places where your ancestor lived
I have already suggested that you could visit cemeteries where your ancestors once lived. Well why not visit where they lived and where they worked as well.
By doing so you may feel a closer connection with them. I certainly have and by doing this it has inspired me to learn even more about them.
My Final Thoughts
This is a great opportunity for you to not only discover who your ancestors were but also to get your family involved as well.
It doesn’t matter if you choose just one or a few of the activities that I have mentioned. Heck you may even want to do all 15 of them.
There are just so many ways that you can find information about your ancestors. And there are also many ways that you can preserve their memories and their stories as I have discussed in this post.
So, enjoy this month and get to know your ancestors. Who knows who you will discover and what you will find out about them.
I wish you all the best on your family history journey.
If you are looking for further ideas on what to do for this special month then I suggest you check out the ThoughtCo site.
Written by Kimberly Powell here guide entitled 10 Ways to Celebrate Family History Month shows you how to start tracing your roots and getting to know your ancestors.
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