Sharing Family History: Preserve the record

Sharing Family History: Preserve the recordBy Barry J. Ewell

Preserve your family pictures
Try your hand at scanning family photos into your computer, or hire someone to do it for you, and then store the originals in acid-free photo boxes or albums. The same thing goes for the family movies!

Scan the family photos out of the shoeboxes or bags in the back of your closet; track down the photo you’ve never seen of your great-grandparents; or ask your Grandma to help you put names to the faces of all of those unmarked photos in your family album.  When you are done, share some of your photo finds with the family, by creating a family photo calendar or a family photo book!

Excavate grandpa’s attic or basement
Organize a project to search and catalog family artifacts and history from the attic and basement of family like grandma and grandpa. Countless treasures and stories hide among the old “junk” packed away in boxes and trunks. Let kids root through Grandma’s hat boxes, Grandpa’s model train set, old clothes and other treasures. These mementos give children a glimpse of their relatives’ younger years and show them how times have changed. Make a special effort to pull out items from a parent’s childhood—Mom’s Barbie dolls or Dad’s high school science project, for example—so kids can see what their mother or father was like at their age.

Create a time capsule—in reverse
If your ancestors had left a time capsule, what would have been in it? Pick an ancestor and try to create a snapshot of his or her life.

  • If you have objects such as photographs, recipe cards or diaries, make copies and include them in the time capsule.
  • Children can re-create “artifacts” from the chosen ancestor’s lifetime using historical and genealogical facts. For example, they could use a marriage date and place to make up a wedding invitation.
  • Create a newspaper page detailing the important events of the time.
  • Show the trendy fashions that ancestor might have worn.

Some historical eras you could choose:

  • World War II (1941-1945)
  • • Roaring ’20s (1921-1929)
  • Victorian era (1890s-1900s)
  • Pioneer/frontier days (1800s up to early 1900s in the western United States)
  • Civil War (1861-1865)
  • Colonial times (1600s to 1776)

Next, find a box or container to use as your capsule. A shoebox or medium plastic storage box should be the right size. If you want, decorate the outside of your time capsule. Be sure to date it with a year from the era you chose (a Civil War capsule could say 1863).

Start a family archive
Collect items that are important for your family including

  • Birthday cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Ticket stubs
  • Programs from events that you attend
  • Report cards
  • Letters
  • Recipes
  • Certificates of achievement  and diplomas