There comes a time when most children and grandchildren are interested in learning – and documenting – their family history. This curiosity can be a great way to spend time together, recording your family’s story.
The Internet is an indispensable tool for researching family history. Adult children and older grandchildren can help you with your online genealogy research. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- See if your local libraries have a subscription for searching the U.S. Census records, or click here to view other ways to access them.
- Sites such as Ancestry.com or HeritageQuest.com have digitized many census holdings from the National Archives. They also offer other documents and resources for researching your genealogy.
- FamilySearch.org provides an online search of millions of names that have been entered in an International Genealogical Index
- Visit the “Big List of Genealogy Links” page for many other valuable links.
Most of these links are free, though Ancestry.com does require a subscription after a free trial period.
During your research, keep what you find organized by making print or computerized copies that also note where the information came from.
Make copies of the records you have, such as military records and marriage certificates. Remember that older relatives can also be a source of information. Make copies of any records and photos they have that will add to your narrative, and interview them for information and stories.
Speaking of relatives, grandchildren as young as elementary school can enjoy making videos that document the family story. These days, digital movies are easy to make. You and your grandchildren can even use a smartphone and free computer applications to take videos and edit them. Grandchildren can interview you and other relatives about your early memories, facts and stories, and put them together with old photos to make a family history movie.
Another fun way to document the family history is to create a scrapbook of family stories, documents and photos. Or, put the information together and have bound copies made for all interested parties.
Either style will come alive with photos, so gather as many as you can, and make sure to caption them with the year and who is in them, to the best of your ability. You can also supplement photos your family members have and those from sites like Ancestory.com with photos from the era. For example, if your family immigrated to the United States on a certain ship, but you don’t have photos; images of that ship may very well be in circulation online. You can download and print a copy to enhance your scrapbook or memory book.
Whatever way you choose to build your story with family members, one thing is certain: These records will be treasured – and added to – for generations to come.
Begin Building Your Family Tree – AARP.org
Family History Projects – UWWP.org