Summer is family reunion season- a time to bring together family members that share the roots and branches of the same family tree. But WHO do those roots represent and how deep do they go?
A family reunion is the perfect place to share the family history and genealogy of your own family tree. Here’s ten tips to help you plan a genealogy themed family reunion.
1. Make a Wall or Poster Sized Family Tree
To put your family history into perspective print a large wall chart of your genealogy. A professional source for printing your family tree is http://www.ancestryprinting.com/. They specialize in printing genealogy charts and offer several different formats. Hang the chart in a central location at your reunion and watch as family members explore their heritage in a way that is easily understood.
2. Hold a Genealogy “Church”
Give a family history presentation about one of your ancestors each year. These shouldn’t be long, boring presentations, but stories and pictures of your ancestors’ life and history. Highlight an ancestor each year and before long family members will have a repertoire of family stories they can recite.
3. Serve Food from Your Homeland
Serve food from your “homeland”. If your roots go back to Scotland serve scones or shortbread or if you claim Ireland as your homeland serve an Irish stew.
4. Share Photos
My brother, Scott, has become the official family photo organizer. He has worked with our parents to categorize and label photos from our families history. He makes these photos available on online storage sites such as Flickr. You can ask family members to bring their old, historic family photos to the reunion. Be sure photos are labeled with the date and location the photo was taken. A reunion is a great place to identify the people in photos. Ask someone to bring a scanner and laptop computer with CD burner, then set up a scanning table and create a CD of everyone’s photos or sign up to have photos printed at a later date.
5. Play a Genealogy game
Create games using game show themes such as “Wheel of Ancestors” or “Family Feud”. Ask questions to test your families’ knowledge of their heritage. Make a crossword puzzle, coloring book or word search to help our family learn about their ancestors.
6. Heritage Cookbook
Collect family favorite recipes. Include a little history about the recipe and why it’s a family favorite. Use a professional cookbook printing service or put together your own book at a local copy store.
7. Family History Skits & Re-enactments
Using stories from your own family history, act out fun family stories and experiences. Everyone in the Stewart family knows the story of Aunt Ann and the banana because we acted it out during our family history church.
8. Tour Family Homestead or Cemetery
If your family reunion is held near where the family originated, then schedule a trip to the old family homestead, church or cemetery. You may also want to hold your reunion near the family home or in the town where one of your ancestors were born, raised, married or buried.
9. Involve the Kids
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. The challenge is part of the “Family Heritage” reunion theme. Create a coloring page of your family crest for children to color or help them dress in authentic costumes from the country their ancestors originated from.
10. Life Histories
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 special binders. Some day these journal pages can be compiled into family history books.
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 Printable.
Anyone who has worked on their family history knows how exciting it can be. The more information they discover about their ancestors, the more real these people become. By learning about ones ancestors, it helps us understand ourselves, our heritage and the roots and branches of our family tree.