It is important to talk with your children or the younger members of your family about their history, culture, and ancestors. The younger generation must know that they are a living legacy. Hands-down, the most valuable family heirloom you can pass down through generation to generation is the history and culture of your family. With this information comes self-respect, pride and a strong sense of belonging.
Tracing your family history can seem overwhelming, but it really does not have to be. Even if you don’t have a clue as to who your ancestors were for more than two generations before you, you will probably still know more than the young people in your family.
The only way to pass down what knowledge you have about your family history is to write it down and see where it takes you.
Gather what information you have at your disposal. Do you have an older relative’s bible, death certificate, newspaper clippings, marriage certificates, baptismal information, passports?
Contact family members near and far. Begin questioning relatives to see what they can contribute to your family tree project. Perhaps there are relatives who can trace your family tree even further back than you can. Get in touch with those relatives who are distant and relatives by marriage because they might be able to fill in some missing familial info.
Visit your hometown. Pay a visit to your hometown to visit with relatives and/or close family friends who can also provide you with the info you are seeking. Check out libraries for newspaper archives, cemetery records, and churches attended by family members.
Check out military records. The military keeps records you can access. If your ancestors were in the military, you could obtain information on them, their spouses and dependents.
Find out who came here first. If you know where your family entered the country, you might be able to trace your lineage back to the first generation by investigating immigration records. Then you can work your family tree from both ends and fill in the gaps in the middle.
Once you have gathered all of the available information, think about how you want to present it. Family tree charts are typical, but maybe a simple, informational paragraph works best for you. You can download family tree templates from the internet, or you could make a book and add photos, favorite family anecdotes or recipes.
Compiling your family history will be interesting to your children because it is not just about the family, it is about them. Tracing your roots is a project that can bring a family even more together, but that can create a document that can be cherished for absolute years to come!