Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” As you may be aware, October is Family History Month. In this blog article, Gena celebrates this special month for family historians by suggesting three genealogy tips for you to try.
First set aside as Family History Month in 2001 via a resolution introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch, October is a time to reflect on our ancestry. Family History Month can be a busy one with genealogy society events and conferences to educate existing family historians – and encourage those who are just starting.
What are you personally doing for Family History Month? It’s the perfect time to set some goals for what you want to do with your family history research. Consider what you want to accomplish and then break those objectives down into smaller goals that can easily be achieved in a short amount of time. What might some month-long genealogy goals look like? Here are a few goals that I’ll be working on to celebrate Family History Month.
1) Catch up on your newspaper research. I’m lucky – I get to research in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives on a daily basis. But GenealogyBank is updated monthly and I don’t always remember to rerun my searches for new-to-me articles. My plan this month is to search the latest additions to GenealogyBank for newspapers that can help me fill in some of the gaps in my family tree.
Do you have an obituary for all of your great-grandparents? Have you looked for your parent’s wedding announcements? What about notices in the legal section of the newspapers? Take some time this month to find new articles to add to your family history.
I’m starting with my great-great-grandparents’ obituaries. Below is one of my paternal great-great-grandparents. Now, only 31 more to go!
2) Learn one new thing about genealogy. What’s that one thing you wish you knew about family history research? Maybe you want to know how to conduct better searches. Maybe you want to learn how to use a specific genealogy website. Maybe you would just like to better understand the World War I draft. Whatever your interest is, make a pact with yourself that you will take some time this month to enhance your genealogy research skills by learning one new thing. Whether it’s methodology, a new website, how to search a favorite website, or learning about a record set, your research will benefit from continuing education.
GenealogyBank provides many different opportunities to learn more about genealogy, including a YouTube channel, Pinterest boards, and a Learning Center. Ensure you are searching like a family history pro and invest some time in learning how to best use genealogy resources.
3) Share your family history research. How are you sharing your genealogy research? Genealogy is often seen as a solitary pursuit. While the image of someone bent over a microfilm machine in a hushed library is sometimes accurate, the new face of genealogy research is so much more. It’s through sharing that we learn from the knowledge and work of others as we seek to find answers. Sharing your genealogy research doesn’t need to be a big production.
Take some time today to tell a younger member of the family about your grandparents, or a story about a historical event you witnessed (my mom shared with my high school-age sons about the Kennedy assassination and its effect on her as a high school student). Upload some family photos to Facebook and tag your family members. Call a sibling and ask them what they remember about a grandparent or a family event, and then share your research about that person. Sharing doesn’t need to be something planned well in advance or a lot of work – it can simply mean spending a few minutes to pass on what you know about your ancestry.
As you think about sharing your family history, make plans for how you will share or gather information as the holidays approach. Many families take time out of their busy lives to meet for the holidays. Plan now to take advantage of these multigenerational family gatherings.
Family History Month is a great time to accomplish some family history goals. Take a few minutes today to decide what you will accomplish.