Thursday, August 18, 2016


A Twofer: Enlisting Family Members to Help You

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with your research? Have you thought of enlisting one or more
of your family members to help you? If not, you are missing out on a support system—and you are depriving your family members of the joy of family history research.

Below are some tips on how to involve your family. And the twofer? If they are younger than you, you might be recruiting more youthful members to join your genealogy society!

Pinpoint the techies: Anyone under 40 probably knows a lot about computers, scanners, social media,
the Internet, etc. Here are some jobs they can do:

• Scan family photographs and documents

• Input your research information into your genealogy software program (you do have one, right?)

• Set up a family Facebook page or Web site

• Handle your e-mail correspondence

Any budding writers in your family?

• Send them a family photo and the facts about that person, and request that they write one to two paragraphs for you to share in the family newsletter

• Ask them to help create a family newsletter

Who are the party-givers in your family? Give them a job:

• Organize a “mini reunion”: one day, potluck, bring family photos (Be sure the family scanner is on hand to scan the photos or documents before they leave—and be sure to get names, dates, etc. so the photos can be identified.)

• Organize a family “breakfast meeting”: once a month on the same weekend (1st, 2nd, last, whichever) at the same low-priced restaurant. Whoever can come, shows up. It keeps the family connected—and you can share your latest research findings.

Who are the travelers/tourists in your family?

• Enlist them to take photographs in the old hometown, at a family cemetery, at a battlefield, etc. Provide them with the background of the site so that they get curious about (and connected to) your family’s past.

• Request that they check out the local historical society, courthouse, or other repository to get first-hand information so that you can follow up. Connect with grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. If they are teenagers or younger, their parents are probably overextended and would appreciate a “date
weekend” or some personal time without the kids. Offer to be the granny/nanny and take one or more of those kids to an age-appropriate, family-history-oriented event. It could be a cultural festival, a visit to a historic site—if it’s connected to your family’s history, all the better. Spend a few hours at the library browsing its photo collection or pictorial publications focusing on historic sites, or in your home as they help you sort family photos and you tell them the most exciting stories of their ancestors. Many genealogists confess that the stories told by the senior members of their
family are what inspired them to research when they became adults.

Be a good genealogical gardener: Plant some seeds! Get assistance! Pay the research forward!

Donie Nelson specializes in establishing outreach programs for genealogical societies. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Nuestras Raices, a national quarterly journal for Hispanic researchers. This article is
©2015 Donie Nelson; all rights reserved.