This is what LOVE looks like…

Organizing Family Photos for Great-Grandparents

I can’t even keep track of my 16 nieces and nephews’ kids- what would I do if I had 40 grandchildren and 52, and counting, GREAT- grand children whose names I wanted to remember.  Well, I guess I’d do what Elgie and Ruth Hale have done- a family photo wall. 

Family Photo Wall

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Most grandparents would like to keep in close contact with the grandchildren, remember birthdays and other holidays and attending special events in their grandchild’s life.  When grandparents turn into GREAT- grandparents, the challenge of knowing the great-grands becomes a bit more challenging.

The Hale’s met this challenge by dedicating one wall in their home to their  grandchildren and great-grands whose photos are displayed in 4×6 frames on their special family wall.  They are listed from oldest to youngest with each name displayed at the bottom of the frame.

Family members know what size of picture fits in the frames and can send updated school pictures or candid shots to be placed in their own special frame.

Grandma’s Brag Books

Of course, if you don’t want to devote a whole wall to your family photos you could keep them in a three ring binder or smaller photo “brag” book and refer back to it before family gatherings and special occasions.  A book such as this would be a wonderful gift for Great Grandma and a fun project for a grand daughter.

Cortina Leather Mini Brag Book Photo Wallet, Price/piece

Family Reunion Photos

Next time your family gets together for a family reunion or party take a family photo.  Take your cue from school class photos and label the photo with family member’s names for easy reference.

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However you choose to do it- helping Great-Grandma and Grandpa stay in touch with their great grandchildren can help connect the child to their roots and enhances the grandparents’ legacy.

The only thing I would change about the Hales family photo wall would be to add the following quote- because at the Hale home this really is what LOVE looks like.

Family Vinyl Words & Wall Quotes #64

Genealogy Themed Photo Books

I’m so lucky because I had some ancestors that wrote things down and family members, like my Mom and my brother, Scott who made sure old photos were labeled, digitalized and stored safely.  My contribution to their efforts is to share some of my ancestors life stories in digital photo books.

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Tell Your Ancestor’s Story

Besides making a reunion scrapbook each year, I have also made family history or genealogy books. This is fun to do if you have a lot of stories about an ancestor. The book pictured below is about an ancestor and the decision they made to come to America. I didn’t try to tell their whole life story just the events that led up to their coming to America and their arrival here.

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As you might expect, part of the challenge when making this type of photo book is getting enough pictures to go in the book.  I handled that problem by finding generic pictures on the internet and using them in my books. For instance, if Grandma got a 1950’s blue Schwinn bike for her 8th birthday search for that image on the internet and add it to your book. (Note: be sure images are not copywrited) In the picture below you see a page that is telling about a conversation our ancestors had in their kitchen.  Of course I didn’t have a picture of their kitchen but I did find a picture of cooking utensils they might have had in their kitchen and included that in my photo book.

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I repeated the same idea with this page.  Although not personable to my ancestor it is representative of life when the story took place.

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The best pages are those that feature actual photos of ancestors to illustrate real stories from their life’s. 

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The easiest photo books to create are those of loved ones that are still living.  When my Mom celebrated her latest milestone birthday we gave her a book of lessons learned and fun experiences we had growing up with her.  We titled it “Teachings, Tall Tales and Inspirations” and Mom loves it.

Sharing Your Photo Book

You can buy copies of your book to give as gifts to family members, auction them off to raise money for your reunion or just let family members know the book is there and let everyone buy their own copy.

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Emory University concluded in a recent study of children ages 14-16 that “a child’s ability to retell family stories was linked to lower instances of depression, anxiety and less acting out due to frustration and anger”.  There is an African saying that "a people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots."Kind of reminds me of my favorite reunion quote, “A tree without roots falls over.”  The moral to this story- share the stories of your ancestors whether it be around the campfire or in a genealogy themed photo book.

Aunt MO

Helpful Hints for Building Your Family Tree

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Have you ever thought about your family tree and wondered which branch you fell from? Lots of people want to know more about their ancestry and past, but might not know where to start. The truth of the matter is that there are lots of ways to find out where you came from and what your relatives were like. It is not easy, but it is completely possible.

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Interview Grandpa

Talking with your older family relatives, and while you are at it, take down their information as well. While it’s not pleasant to think about these things, it is important to remember that they won’t always be around. Eventually, your children or your grandchildren are going to want to know where they came from as well. Ask your older relatives about their families and history. You can even use a tape recorder to document their thoughts. Can they remember anything about what their parents or grandparents did? At the very least, that will give you a good place to start.

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Discover Your Ancestry by Checking Official Records

Remember to hit the records as well. You can find paper records at the library and electronic ones online at ancestry databases. For example, looking up obits can give you a great deal of information about different people, their occupations, and their families.

 

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Check for old news articles that mention family members. You never know when someone did something important. The more research you do, the more there is to learn. Also look around for any old documents that your family may have kept. Are there journals, old year books, property deeds or any other paperwork in the attic from the people who came before you?

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Family Reunions- a Great Genealogy Resource

Perhaps the most information rich place to add branches to your family tree is your family reunion, especially those reunions that include extended family and branches of your family tree.  You can even get children involved in building your family tree by using Family Reunion Helper’s “Super Sleuth” Challenge which guides children through the process of discovering their family history.

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Consider having a family history or genealogy “church” during your reunion, a time where the family gathers together to learn about their ancestors.  Make sure presentations are done creatively and with enthusiasm  to keep the attention of the younger members of your family.  Some fun ideas for your family history church can be found at Family Reunion Helper.

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Keep Accurate Genealogy Records

When you have all of the raw information in front of you, don’t forget to record it. It is easy to get distracted by minutiae. Take a moment to write down what you learned, whether it is in a notebook or in a series of files online. Remember that you are also doing this for posterity, and the more effectively you archive your own efforts, the more likely it will be that your work is going to be useful for the people who come after you.

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Rewards from Building Your Family Tree

Building a family tree takes time, patience and work, but anyone who has delved into the history of their family knows that, the more information they discover about their ancestors, the more real these people become, and the more fascinating. Building your family tree is a wonderful way to join the past with the present and by learning about ones ancestors, it helps us understand ourselves, our heritage and the roots and branches of our family tree.

Make a Family Tree

Look what I found-

I was excited to find this beautiful family tree template.  Using the directions on this site you can make an elegant family tree.  Instructions include printable tree and label templates to show the branches of your family.  Can’t wait to try it!

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Memorykeeping Projects and Keepsakes – Crafts – Martha Stewart

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Make a Family Tree Instructions

Family Reunion Church- Discovering the Roots and Branches of Your Family Tree

Our family reunions are full of fun games, unusual activities, creative crafts and delicious things to eat but we also take time to learn about and honor our ancestors during “Family History Church”.

Most of our family history church meetings are relatively simple but we have done some amazing and memorable things. Several years ago, we included an airplane ticket to Scotland with our family reunion invitation.

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During the reunion, we made a huge “airplane” out of tents, tarps and lawn chairs and took off, in our makeshift plane, for a visit to our ancestral home. We lifted off to the sounds of recorded jet sound effects, and our flight attendants served us peanuts and pop. As we approached the halfway point, our plane developed engine problems and we crashed.

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After the crash, we were greeted by a beautiful angel dressed all in white who led us to a secluded area of our campground where we were visited by six of our ancestors who shared their life stories with us. These “ancestors” were actually family members who memorized a script and dressed in costumes from the era in which they lived.

This was a very elaborate family history church and took a lot of advance preparation but it’s an activity that family members still talk about.

Most of our family history churches are not nearly as complicated.  We always begin our family history church with a prayer and a song about family history/genealogy.

http://www.lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollection=2&searchseqstart=94&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=94&searchsubseqend=ZZZ

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A few years ago we began spotlighting two family members, a child and an adult. We tell a little about the person and give them a few inexpensive gifts such as their favorite candy bar or soda. The next year those spotlighted choose another person to spotlight and so on.

I have the fun opportunity of giving a family history presentation about one of our ancestors each year.  These aren’t long, boring presentations but often include games such as “Wheel of Ancestors” or “Family Feud” and other fun activities.

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We have made crossword puzzles, coloring books and word searches to help our family learn about their ancestors. We have even acted out fun family stories and experiences that make us laugh.  Everyone in the Stewart family know the story of Aunt Ann and the banana because we acted it out during our family history church.

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We value the life stories of our ancestors so much. I wish I could say that all of our family are keeping wonderful descriptive journals for their posterity but we aren’t, so for more that 20 years we have asked our family to take a few minutes to fill out a journal page at our reunion. On the journal page, they record their experiences from the past year and then Grandma stores the pages in binders in hopes that some day we will compile them into family histories. Questions that are typically asked on the journal page are- What is the best thing that happened to you this year? What is the saddest thing that happened to you this year? What was the best movie you saw this year? For a more complete list of questions and sample journal pages, please download Journal Page Samples & Question Ideas.

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Anyone who has delved into the history of their family knows that, the more information they discover about their ancestors, the more real these people become, and the more fascinating. I love to learn the stories of the people that came before me and I love to share them with my family. Family history church is a wonderful way to join the past with the present and by learning about ones ancestors, it helps us understand ourselves, our heritage and the roots and branches of our family tree.

Aunt MO

"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past, present and future."

Author: T.S. Eliot