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10 Ways to Celebrate Family History Month

Projects to Explore and Preserve Your Family Heritage

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October is designated in many U.S. States as "Family History Month," and genealogists everywhere have adopted the month as their own. Whether you're new to genealogy, or have devoted a lifetime to it, celebrate Family History Month with your family this October by trying one (or more) of these ten wonderful ways to craft and commemorate your past.

1. Get Started Tracing Your Family Tree

Chart by Kimberly Powell
If you have been curious about your family tree but just aren't sure where to start then you don't have any more excuses. Here is a great collection of resources and simple advice on how to get started researching your family tree both on and off the Internet.
First Steps: How to Trace Your Family Tree
Free Family Tree Charts

2. Create a Family Cookbook

Family recipes deserve to be preserved. Photo by Getty Images.
Photo by Getty Images.
A perfect recipe for family history, a cookbook of collected heirloom recipes is a wonderful way to preserve memories of favorite meals shared with family. Contact your parents, grandparents, and other relatives and ask them to send you a few of their favorite family recipes. Have them include a story about each dish, where or who it was handed down from, why it is a family favorite, and when it was traditionally eaten (Christmas, family reunions, etc.). Whether you create a full-blown family cookbook, or just make copies for family and friends - this is a gift that will be cherished forever.
Cooking Up Family History - How to Create a Family Cookbook
Make a Family Recipe Book

3. Record Family Stories

Every family has its own history - the events, personalities, and traditions that make the family unique - and collecting these singular stories and memories is one of the most meaningful ways you and your family can honor your older relatives and preserve family traditions. Recording family stories on audiotape, videotape, or in legacy journals, brings family members closer together, bridges generation gaps, and ensures that your family stories will be preserved for future generations.
Fifty Questions for Family Interviews
Legacy Journals for Collecting & Preserving Family Memories

4. Uncover Your Family Health History

Also known as medical genealogy, tracing your family health history is a fun, and potentially lifesaving, project. Experts state that about 3000 of the 10,000 known diseases have genetic links, and that many diseases "run in families," including colon cancer, heart disease, alcoholism, and high blood pressure. Creating a family health history can be a useful tool to aid you and your medical care provider in interpreting patterns of health, illness and genetic traits for you and your descendants. What you learn now could potentially save a family member's life tomorrow.
Tracing Your Family Medical History
Nature vs. Nurture: Are We Really Born That Way?

5. Take a Trip Back in Time

Grab a map, and hop in the car for a family adventure! A fun way to celebrate your family history is to visit sites of importance to your family - the old family homestead, the house where you were born, the country from which your ancestors migrated, the hillside where you played as a child, or the cemetery where great-grandpa is buried. If none of these locations is near to your home, then consider a trip to a historical museum, battlefield, or re-enactment event that relates to the history of your family.
Planning a Family History Vacation
Try Your Hand at Reenacting
Tips for Taking Great Cemetery Photos

6. Scrapbook Your Family Heritage

The perfect place to showcase and protect your precious family photos, heirlooms, and memories, a heritage scrapbook album is wonderful way to document your family's history and create a lasting gift for future generations. While it may seem a daunting task when faced with boxes of dusty old photos, scrapbooking is actually both fun and more easy than you might think!
How to Create a Heritage Scrapbook
Digitally Designing Heritage Albums

7. Start a Family Web Site

If your extended family, like mine, relies on email to stay in touch, then a family Web site may be for you. Serving as a digital scrapbook and meeting spot, a family Web site allows you and your kids to share family photos, favorite recipes, funny stories, and even your family tree research. If you or someone in your family is a Web designer, by all means go to town. If you're more of a beginner, however, don't worry - there are plenty of free online services that make creating a family Web site a snap!
How to Create a Genealogy Web Site
Top 5 Places to Put Your Family History Online
Blogging Your Family History Search

8. Preserve Your Family Pictures

Make this the month that you finally get the family photos out of the shoeboxes or bags in the back of your closet; track down the photo you've never seen of your great-grandparents; or ask your Grandma to help you put names to the faces of all of those unmarked photos in your family album. Try your hand at scanning them into your computer, or hire someone to do it for you, and then store the originals in acid-free photo boxes or albums. Same thing goes for the family movies! Then share some of your photo finds with the family, by creating a family photo calendar or a family photo book!
How to Scan & Restore Old Family Photos
How to Convert Videotapes to DVD
Protect & Preserve Your Family Photos & Movies

9. Get the Next Generation Involved

Most children will learn to appreciate their family history if you turn it into a detective game. Start your children or grandchildren on a lifelong journey of discovery by introducing them to genealogy. Here are some wonderful projects to do with your children this month including games, family history and heritage projects and online lessons.
Teach Your Children to Be Ancestor Detectors

10. Craft a Heritage Gift

From picture frame Christmas ornaments to heritage quilts, your family history makes a great gift! Homemade gifts are often inexpensive but are favorites with the recipients. They don't have to be anything complicated either. Something as simple as a framed photo of a favorite ancestor can bring tears to someone's eyes. Best of all, making a family heritage gift is often more fun than giving one!
Family Tree Projects & Gift Ideas

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