I am currently in the process of selling, giving away or throwing away some of the stuff in my home in preparation for a move to a smaller place. Recently I was going through one of the many boxes that I need to sort through and found a small, white, unlabeled envelope with a number of pictures in it including this one:
As I read what was written on the back of the photo, I remembered receiving this from a cousin about 30 years ago. At that time I knew these people were part of my extended ancestral family but not much more than that and didn’t have the tools to find out more. Today, I looked at the picture and thought I could surely find them on Family Search Family Tree and add this picture. Well, I found the parents there but not the children and so I added the children and then added the picture. I also found the family on a Canadian census and added that source to Family Search Family Tree as well. FamilySearch.org is one of several internet sites that provide the opportunity to share your genealogy including pictures, stories and record sources. See “Family Search Family Tree: Facebook for Your Ancestors” if you would like to learn more.
Sharing family history is so much easier now than it was 30 years ago when I made my first attempts. Back then, I gathered family addresses, typed newsletters sharing what I had gathered and then snail-mailed them. I am so grateful for the many other ways to share that technology has made possible. For example, Facebook which you are already probably using, can be a way of sharing your family history. Look for groups or pages that contain surnames from your family tree and ask to join a relevant group or page. If you don’t find a Facebook group or page for the surname you would like to share about, consider creating one. It isn’t difficult and you can make it private if you choose and accessible to only people you invite to view it. A friend recently shared with me that she had created a private page and posted several pictures including one in which she wasn’t sure who the people were. A cousin soon commented on the picture and identified the people in it. Creating your own family history blog is another way of sharing your genealogy and you only need moderate internet skills to be successful. I have learned as I posted and figured out how to get my posts to look the way I want it them to look. See “Thoughts on Creating a Genealogy Blog” for more ideas.
While technology is great for sharing with family members that live a distance from you, gathering with family members whenever possible strengthens family relationships. I read an article that encourages creating a “family tree gathering” and gives several ideas how this might be accomplished. A family tree gathering is a way that your family can learn about your family history and work together to preserve it. These gatherings can take several forms depending on what the specific goal for the event is. It could be a gathering of the teenage members of your family who would use their technology skills to scan and post online the photos that other family members can supply. It could be a multi-generational family home evening hosted by Grandma and Grandpa to share stories and pictures of ancestors. For those of you not familiar with family home evening, it is a weekly time when being with family is the main focus and various family related activities are enjoyed. For families who are scattered geographically, technology can help create a family tree gathering by using social media or Skype. The following is a quote from the article:
On another occasion, share these stories and photos with your children to get them excited to learn about the lives of their family members. Jim Ison of Ohio, USA, added his grandparents’ stories, photos, and documents to his family tree on FamilySearch.org. He created albums on specific topics about his grandparents and then put together an “ancestor challenge” with questions about them that family members could find the answers to on their family tree. He also printed the stories and put them in binders for the younger children to enjoy.
An ancestor matching game to use at a family tree gathering could be made by repurposing a deck of card. Make two copies of each ancestor’s photo that you will include and glue each of them on the face side of the playing cards. Include the ancestor name and maybe their birth and death years. To play the game, 2 or more players would put the cards face down on a table or other flat surface. Each player would take turns turning over two cards at a time looking for matches. This game will help your family members become more familiar with the names of their ancestors and likely want to know more about them.
I feel so strongly that is it very important to share our family history. As I have written before, genealogy is the names, dates and places of our ancestors. Family history is the pictures and stories that make the names become people to whom we can relate. So if you don’t already have a plan for sharing your family history, please consider what would best work for you. If you have a plan, set aside time on a regular basis to implement your plan. And if the people in the photograph at the beginning of this article are also your ancestors, please leave me a comment; I am always on the lookout for more cousins!
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.