Is your family history displayed on the walls of your home? If not, why not? Perhaps you are concerned about the effects of light and other environmental factors might have on vintage photos and documents. Fortunately, making a good scan of photos and documents is easy today. So make scans of those irreplaceable photos and use the copies to display as part of your home decor. You certainly want to take good care of the originals. A friend of mine cringes as she tells that she was allowed to cut up original photos to make cameos to put on a pictorial pedigree chart that she made for a grade school project. Ouch!
The following examples are proof that you don’t have to be a great interior designer to put together a pleasant display.
This picture grouping hangs over the piano in my living room. Many of these are scans of the original photos and as you can see, none of them are in expensive frames. These pictures include my parents, my husband’s parents, some of our grandparents and even one set of great-grand parents. I’m the baby being carried in the clothes basket in the picture in upper left. The child with the blond curls is my dad, not my mom! He claimed that he was ugliest “girl” in the neighborhood until his dad took him for a haircut.
This next grouping I put together from gifts from my children.
That’s my engagement photo between the coats of arms. Did I ever look that young?
I have written before about making copies of irreplaceable photos and documents and distributing the copies to family members in case the original is lost or damaged. When I found my father’s World War II discharge papers, they included the warning that they were irreplaceable. That’s when I decided to make the shadow boxes of his war memorabilia and give one to each of my kids. These shadow boxes include copies of the medals he earned which I purchased on EBay.
To help your family visualize where your family has lived, you could create a family map. This map could be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be. It could display places of origin where each family member was born. If your family has a tradition of service either as missionaries or in the military, your map could identify places of service. There is a power in places that your ancestors lived that helps you feel closer to them. Being where they walked helps the years between you and they melt away.
This map is a suggestion of what you might create for a family map. I’m sure that some of you reading this are much more creative than I, so take the idea and design your own.
On this map, the hearts represent birth places. The blue hearts represent my husband and me, the red hearts, our children and the green hearts, our parents. I have chosen to put one heart per places even though there may have been more than one birth take place there like in Virginia where three of my children were born. A family map could also be decorated with pictures of the people represented. If I was going to include my grandparent’s place of birth, I would need a world map because my father’s parents were born in Ireland.
Another way to visualize your family history is with a timeline. Timelines can take a variety of forms. Some family display pictures of family members at various ages in a way that demonstrates how they have grown. (Caution, adult children are not fond of seeing pictures of themselves at those awkward ages displayed prominently in your home.) Back when our family was home schooling, the walls would become our display areas. I can visualize a strip of wrapping paper as a background with year marks along it. Pictures of family members could be placed at appropriate places along the timeline. If you would like to include the pictures of places that your family lived but don’t have them, Google Earth is a great place to find them. After timeline has hung on the wall for a while, you might want might to convert it to a book format as a way to preserve it.
I found this downloadable family tree chart at Findmypast.com
There are a lot of great ideas for crafting your family history. Search Google images or Pinterest for ideas for creating your family tree on the wall of a room or other ways to display your family history. How about your ancestors as refrigerator magnets? The possibilities are endless. Have fun with your family history!
About Christine Bell
Christine Bell has been seeking her ancestor for almost forty years and continues to find joy in each one she finds. She volunteers in a Family Search Family History Center where she helps others find their ancestors. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints, she is grateful to be a member of the Church. She is a wife, mother of six grown children, grandmother of five going on six, and currently living in the western United States. Christine enjoys spending time with family and creating quilts for family, friends and Humanitarian Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.