Have you ever wished some of the younger members of your family had more interest in family history? A great way to get that interest started is with stories about people they know—like you! Just in time for Grandparents Day, September 8, we teamed up with Grandparents.com to come up with some ideas for engaging a new generation in family history.
Keep It Relevant
Hold off on the pedigree charts and lead into the conversation with engaging stories about people kids know. Fun stories about their parents or grandparents and their escapades are a great way to get the ball rolling. Or maybe one about an ancestor’s experience that relates to a current event or to something that’s happening in the child’s life. If they want to know how they’re related to that person, then you can bring out the charts and documents to illustrate the connection.
Start a Time Capsule
Our friends at Grandparents.com suggest creating a time capsule that starts with a conversation. They have a downloadable interview sheet you can use to share your memories side-by-side with your grandchild (or child, niece, or nephew).
Write a Letter
Remember how exciting it was to get a letter when you were a kid? Not an email, but a real, honest-to-goodness letter in the mailbox. That thrill doesn’t come often for today’s kids, making it even more special when one does arrive. You don’t have to write a long missive; just jot down a few lines with a story and maybe a copy of a picture of you when you were young. Check out these ideas to get started.
Create a Poster
Making something special together is another great way to connect with kids and generate interest in the family story. Create a poster using MyCanvas, the Ancestry.com publishing tool. With MyCanvas and your Ancestry.com online tree, you can automatically generate a family tree poster (ancestral or descendant). Have kids help add photos, backgrounds, and embellishments to bring your tree to life. The poster will have more meaning to a child who helped create it. You can learn more about what you can do with MyCanvas in these tutorials.
If the opportunity arises, plan a road trip with a young relative. While scrolling through microfilm at the library may not excite them, a trip to the old family farm or through the old neighborhood to take pictures just might, and it will provide you with ample chances to share your memories and stories. With the Ancestry.com mobile app, you and your traveling companion can upload pictures you take to your online tree on the spot.
However you choose to connect with the next generation in your family, now is the time. Your family history legacy starts with you, but its future lies with them.
How have you connected with younger generations to share your family history? Please share your tips with us in the comments section.
About Juliana Szucs
Juliana Szucs has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.