When it comes to family history, each and every one of ours is different. It may be difficult to preserve all your family histories in one standard family tree. Many of us wish to be a little bit more creative than that! Family stories can often be complex, with dramas, heroes, heroines and villains, all in one family! So, how do you capture these fascinating stories whilst maintaining their richness and uniqueness? How do you share these narratives in a way that doesn’t become overwhelming by just thinking about it? Here are some tips to inspire you to start today.
Most of us feel nostalgic when we open a photo album and see pictures of us in our youth. Why not make one to place all your old photographs in, instead of keeping them in the attic? If you don’t feel comfortable using old photographs, get them copied. You could dedicate a couple of pages to each ancestor, or different albums for those in your maternal and paternal line. Keep a note of the date, age and events that happened around the time the photo was taken and write them on the back (if it has not been written already).
This is a great one if you love being creative. It’s also a perfect way to get other family members involved. You could include pictures, copies of newspaper articles and letters if you have them! Don’t worry if you don’t have or can’t locate any newspaper clippings that directly relate to any one of your ancestors’. It’s the social history that occurred around the time they lived that shaped their lives and also adds to their stories!
This one is for you if you like record keeping. Keep a timeline of significant events, including birth, marriage, death dates and anything else that you believe to be important. Remember, this is for you and your family to look back on! Of course, to keep it at a considerable length, you may have to pick and choose your ancestors from each line. There is also the option to have both maternal and paternal lines side-by-side. It would be interesting to see where they were and how they lived in the same era.
Create a calendar for the new year and fill in the dates with important things your ancestors did, such as birthdays, weddings and more!
Have you considered writing down your family history? Well, there’s no time like the present! You don’t have to write a novel, especially if you’re new to writing. You can start by developing short stories, one or two for each of your ancestors’. Begin jotting down important dates and events and then try writing 50 – 100 words and so on. Before you know it, you’ll have pages! Stories are wonderful and are a fun way to get the little ones enthused about their family history. By relaying these stories to younger generations, you’re more likely to remember them too!
Storytelling but with a play on words. You can really have some fun with this if you’re a lover of literature and creative writing. For inspiration, look at old photographs, and think of what it would be like to experience life through your ancestor’s eyes. Jot down thoughts, feelings, and then decide what type of poetry you’d like to write. Then all you have to do is go with the flow…
You may already have one of these stuffed up in your attic somewhere, no doubt! Memory or keepsake boxes are nice ways to place all your family heirlooms, trinkets, and gifts, to give that extra bit of sentimental value to your family history.
A great idea for any festivity! If you love your arts and crafts, why not add a touch of family history to your Christmas decorations? Baubles are a good place to start. You could sew, stitch or knit a ‘cover-up’ with an ancestor’s name and birth-death date to go over a bauble. A unique way to keep family members with you over the festive season. You could even mix it up and add nicknames, use their favourite colours and more.
Perhaps you don’t particularly feel creative today. That’s okay! We all experience writers’ block or just aren’t very artsy. Keep it simple and sweet by framing cherished family history documents and placing them in a room of your choice. Investing in a pretty frame will make it that much more special!
Why not digitise your favourite images and create a short film? You can add to it every time a new family member is born or something significant or eventful happens.
Your 4x great grandmother’s apple pie that has been passed down through generations to you is no joke. If you love cooking or baking, take notes! Or pass it on to someone else in your family who does. You can begin by asking family members their favourite meals, how they like them done, and if there are any secret ingredients they put in their meals. Place these all in a book and categorise them. Of course, if you’re quite the Gordon Ramsay, you can start this off by writing down delicious recipes ready to pass on to your descendants!
Whether you’ve got a free afternoon or it’s a rainy day, these tasks can vary on the length of time to complete. Many of us don’t have the time to do huge chunks of research all in one sitting, but we do have the odd couple of minutes. You can use this spare time and devote it to family history research. These little bits of research here and there will add up over time. Soon you could have a whole story sitting in front of you!
On the other hand, you may feel like you just don’t have the time to do this by yourself. Family Wise Limited can produce a binder of all your family history documents, a perfect gift for Christmas! Call us on 01249 476777 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to start your family history journey today.