by Anna Fechter
Home for the Holidays
What comes to the top of your mind when you think of the holidays? When I asked my co-worker this question she replied, "Family of course!" Now this may be due to the fact that we work for a family oriented company but I would like to think that most people would have answered the same way. During the holiday season generally families gather together so use this time to add to your family history research.
There are a few things that I like to have with me when we are attending family events,
2. Digital recorder or video recorder
3. Pen and paper
4. My research binder
5. My laptop (if I can)
Here's the why:
1. If you have a camera on hand not only can you take pictures of family members but you can also take pictures of their pictures, or family belongings. On one trip I took a picture of the front page of a family bible that contained a lot of great information.
2. Having a digital or video recorder will allow you to record family stories and if the opportunity arises you can also conduct an interview with a family member. This past summer we interviewed my husband's grandfather who is now at a stage where he is not able to talk much - having the interview where he tells stories, sings songs and just talks about the past is priceless!
3. It never fails that I wish I had Aunt Nancy's email address or my cousin's mailing address. Bringing a pen and paper to events gives me a place to write these things down and I can also distribute my email address or contact information to them.
4. My research binder contains a calendar, a recent copy of the family tree, my research log and the questions that I have not been able to answer. When I am around family I inevitably can add a few names to the tree, cross a few items off my list of questions and I love having the calendar with me to record new additions to the family.
5. My laptop is obviously a great resource for various reasons - and if I have it I don't need many of the other items on my list. The greatest benefit of having my laptop (other than not having to bring anything else) is being able to share all of the cool things I am working on - my family book, the online family tree, records I have located, etc - and not only have them look at these things but I can send them notes, or invite them to the tree right then and there. I have found that when my family members realize that there is something to family history beyond sitting in dusty archives that they want to get involved and it gets them excited.
I hope you are as fortunate as I am and that you are able to visit with family over the next month. Before you gather think of how they can help you with your research and what you could accomplish by bringing a few simple items along.
Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 9 December 2009, Vol. 12, No. 12