October is Family History Month in the United States. Many people think that family history is something that is buried in the past and requires research. Research can be a large part of family history but family history is something that can be very much in the present. There are a number of ways you can go about documenting your family history without traditionally defined research.
1. Interview a family member about their memories and experiences of growing up. This can be as formal as you want it. It can be nice to have a recording of the interview so people can hear the stories for themselves from the people telling them.
2. Invite some relatives over for a family meal to reconnect.
3. Document your own stories and experiences.
4. Call some relatives that you don’t see often.
5. Organize and label your photographs–better yet, get into your computer and organize your digital memories and find a way to preserve them. People often think that once something is digital, it will last forever. This is not the case with digital objects–they are often more vulnerable to loss through technological failures, mislabeling, and storage on different media types among other things. Consider using a backup service like Carbonite so there is a copy of your pictures somewhere other than your home. Follow the hotlink for some recommendations on cloud backup services.
6. Attend a webinar to get some tips and tricks for starting your research.
7. Put a scrapbook or recipe book together. My uncle put a recipe book together that contained all of my grandmother’s favorite family recipes. It is the cookbook I use most often.
8. For all of you that need an excuse to quilt, put a family themed quilt together. Quilts are treasured heirlooms in my family.
There are scads of other things you can do so get creative. These can also lend themselves to library programming ideas throughout the year. Genealogy/Family History is the second most popular hobby in the U.S. behind gardening so there are a lot of people out there who want to share their story. Go find them for Family History Month.