Be ready for holiday memories with genealogy prompts

Christmas, Kwanzza, and New Year’s celebrations are being scaled back due to the coronavirus. Many of us are meeting safely via Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and some other platforms. My family is doing so the first weekend of the New Year.

Some of our virtual get-togethers will involve food, gifts, maybe something silly, and of course, lots of chatting. Hopefully, someone will mention Grandma Sally’s famous Christmas cookies or the year Great Granduncle George stayed awake through dinner. A clever family historian will have questions and comments ready to entice some ancestral family discussions without saying the word “genealogy.”

When Aunt Suzanne shares the story of her father having to deliver the mail in a blizzard or your grandmother tells about her grandmother’s stories of Great Grandpa James’ World  War I service, you need to be ready to share your own stories. Then you can share a screen showing his WWI draft registration. How about showing him on the 1900 census as a 5-year-old with his parents? That may open up more memories, even from the younger family members who remember Grandma Louise. A memory from one person usually results in one from someone else.

Next, be ready to tell them how they can get their own copy of these records by going to various free and subscription genealogy websites. Tell them to see which of the genealogy sites are free and which may be available via their public library on their own home computer or tablet. For example, Ancestry Library edition is currently free to home users through many libraries. All they need is their library card number! Their library may subscribe to MyHeritage or Findmypast. How about some of the newspaper websites.

Tell the you’ll send the URLs of these websites, some library website examples, and maybe the title of a genealogy book or two in case they get interested. ( for a list of some books.} Prepare a one-page sheet to send them via email and then sit back and hope a couple family members do some checking on the websites or order a book. It might trigger Aunt Suzanne to check that old box in her attic that has memorabilia and papers from her parents.

Are you ready with your questions or comments? Are you ready to send a simple one-sheet list? Keep your fingers crossed that even one person does some checking and gets excited about what they find.

Merry Christmas!

© 2020, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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