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Leaving Your Legacy

Posted by Juliana Smith on August 30, 2013 in Ancestry.com Site, Stories

Paul and Jack PyburnHave 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.

Road Trip!
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.

Start Now
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 Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 15 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.

12 comments

Comments
1 Dale DouyardAugust 30, 2013 at 11:30 am

Where can I get a time capsule ?

2 Juliana SmithAugust 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm

WikiHow has an article on creating your own time capsule. http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Time-Capsule

3 SamanthaAugust 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Being 17 and having a love for history, I got involved in family history without a “nudge.” Anyway, me and my cousin were helping my grandma clean our great-grandma’s apartment. While we were there, I started looking through some boxes, closets, etc. for old documents and/or pictures (she has things everywhere). My cousin started to get interested (she’s 12). I made it seem like a scavenger hunt, like we were on National Treasure or something! Between the two of us, we found a lot of great photos, pamphlets, documents, and more!

4 GayleSeptember 1, 2013 at 10:53 am

Just before Thanksgiving 2012, I discovered my Mayflower connection, William Brewster. After our holiday dinner, with all 8 grandkids and their parents present, I pretended I was his daughter Patience and told what it was like moving to Holland and back to England to board our ship. I explained what I knew of the first Thanksgiving. Then I gave them all a family tree (that I downloaded here) showing how they descended from the Brewsters. I was surprised and very pleased that all of them showed an interest. One in particular wanted to know more. She is the one I will pass my tree along to!

5 Alice KingSeptember 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm

When my daughter was a young teen (over 30 years ago) one of her teachers gave the students a list of extra credit projects. One suggestion was to come up with a novel way to illustrate her family tree. Since it was late fall, with Christmas right around the corner, I suggested she draw a Christmas tree on a large piece of poster board and decorate it with lights. The star at the top of the tree was my daughters name with date and place of birth. From her star were two lines to the first pair of “lights” representing myself and her father. Down the tree it went, with a pair of parental “light cords” to each additional generation. Not wanting to leave anyone out I had her turn the poster board over and attach a paper holiday drink coaster (glued at the top edge only) to correspond with each person on the front. When you lifted up the coaster you would see the siblings of the person on the front side. It was not only a great (and fun) project for her but sparked a life long interest in the family tree.

6 LarrySeptember 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Here’s a story that begs to be told. What are the odds that a family member made his living by boxing kangaroos? Here is an abbreviated copy of a couple of e-mails between a new found cousin and myself: “I have pictures and handbills of a lot of kangaroo boxing pictures with Frank in them. One of his kangaroos (Knock Out Bob) was most famous. My Father was Ervin George and I am his son Larry Ervin” ….. “Oh my god it’s true! He boxed a kangaroo! I just can’t get over it !
I was thinking it was just a story. Oh my! Larry thanks for letting me know. And it’s great to meet you.My great grandmother was his sister . I have been researching for 3-4 years now. I have a lot of documents I would love to share with you. If you would like, I can mail and/ or email them to you? I have been in contact with your cousin . (Her father was Donald. His brothers were Gerald and Robert.) I just sent her a package last month. I have to beg beg beg you to send me copies/ scans of Frank and the kangaroos! You know many years ago I wrote a children’s book about a great uncle who boxed a kangaroo. I got a few really great rejections!” Jeanne..
You too may have a hidden kangaroo is your past or certainly something just as strange… Check it Out!

[...] Leaving Your Legacy – Ancestry.com Blog [...]

8 DianeSeptember 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I began writing my memories of my childhood several yrs ago. I made an album which I can add to each year, and on Christmas, I add more stories, pictures, etc. to be added to my daughters album ( I titled it “Once Upon My Time”) The girls look forward to the new pages each year and I find if I take the time to write something once a month or so, the stories and memories begin to come back to me. I share things like games I played, friends, school experiences, relatives, pets, and different things which happened to me growing up. Stories can be very short, or a page or two. I try to add old pix which may go along with my stories. This will be the 4th year, and the album grows. A great book to get is called “Passing on A written Legacy” by Lana Rockwell. It is “an easy guide to Memory writing”. Give it a try.

9 vashikaranSeptember 12, 2013 at 5:27 am

I got involved in family history without a “nudge.” Anyway, me and my cousin were helping my grandma clean our great-grandma’s apartment. While we were there, I started looking through some boxes, closets, etc. for old documents and/or pictures (she has things everywhere). My cousin started to get interested (she’s 12). I made it seem like a scavenger hunt, like we were on National Treasure or something! Between the two of us, we found a lot of great photos, pamphlets, documents, and more!

vashikaran

10 vashikaran mantrasDecember 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I have also same story of vashikaran. Now this time my age 21 year last 7 years me and my brother clean grandfather room a i see a letter. Its a love letter and wrote my grandfather to my grand mother. I read this and i very inspire my grand father. Good love story………….

11 Sandra KurtzMarch 12, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I teach fifth grade and have found students love to fill out pedigree charts with their parents help. This leads to good discussions of relatives who may have immigrated to America. This also has caused many parents to want to explore their family history further. I use a digital tape recorder to record my mom’s answers to my family history question. Kids would love to tape their grandparents. They are more techno than many adults ( myself included!).

12 vashikaranApril 16, 2014 at 4:09 am

I found some other ways to get kids ( one 4 year old son, and 7 year old daughter ) involved more into family rituals and history. I had several VHS recording of my father and mother in law, with my husband. I showed them to my kids. Now they keep asking me little question from that video. feels good that kids atleast talk about past days

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