Sharing Family History: Attend family reunions

Sharing Family History: Attend family reunionsBy Barry J. Ewell

Attend family reunions
Family reunions provide opportunities for different generations and branches of a family to come together. Young people get to know relatives they might not otherwise meet and see how they are related to each other. Families create experiences and memories that can last a lifetime. It is easy to incorporate family history in a family reunion when…

  • The reunion is held near a place of significance to your family such as a homestead or cemetery.
  • The reunion is held on an important historical date (for example, the anniversary of your ancestors’ arrival in the U.S., a wedding, or birth date).
  • The reunion uses family history facts to make games such as crossword puzzles, word games, or scavenger hunts.
  • The reunion includes displays created from information learned and gathered from family history research.  Displays can include books, photocopies of historical documents, pictures and maps.
  • The reunion includes workshops that present information on a prominent/fascinating ancestor (i.e., remember legendary ancestors — funny, heroic, outlaws, famous or infamous), branch of the family, or how to do genealogy research, sharing, for example, how you find all of your information and including some obstacles and challenges that fascinate you.
  • The reunion has a speaker with a particular genealogical specialty that relates to the family.
  • The reunion encourages members of the family to share personal experiences and tales.
  • The reunion can be used to display and solve the mystery of materials, papers and photos you can’t identify. Ask members to bring mystery photos. Indicate who brought each photo, then ask everyone to look at them and see if they can identify the people in the pictures
  • The reunion gathers oral histories. This is an opportunity for some of your older family members to describe their reactions to photos, share stories and memories and have them recorded.
  • The reunion becomes a time to setup appointments with family members to conduct family history research and interviews.
  • The reunion uses name tags or badges to identify individuals and family lines.  Consider using a baby or childhood picture, or names of the ancestor from whom the family member is descended. Think about color-coding name tags by family branch.
  • The reunion records history.  Make a special effort to record with the camera, video, or recorder family faces and voices. If your reunion is very large, consider engaging a professional. Taping interviews with family members offers a powerful addition to family history since the remembrances are in their own words, with their own inflections and expressions.