July 30th, 2012

4 Fun Ways to Leave a Family Legacy

After investing years of time and energy in the research of your family, you’ll want to ensure the story you uncover stands the test of time. Future generations of your relatives will enjoy and take pride in their heritage, but only if it’s there for them when you no longer are. Our family histories are treasures, and should be preserved as the valuable items they are. Maybe you’ve even used research done by another relative who preceded you. What if they hadn’t left that data behind? If we don’t take steps to preserve our family histories, there is a chance they may fade away. That would be a loss to our legacies, as well as family members who come after us.

Anyone of the following ideas can help you to preserve your family heritage; I use several of them myself. Have a look through them and choose a method or two that best suits your personality and your particular family history. Doing so will ensure that your family legacy is not just an accumulation of data, but a colourful story of your family’s heritage that will be around for generations.

Start a Family Scrapbook

A scrapbook can be a family history in itself, limited only by your imagination and creativity. Scrapbooks can contain photos, documents, family heirlooms, personal letters and whatever else you feel helps to tell the story of your family. You can even scrapbook by subject; a cemetery scrapbook containing photos of tombstones and inscriptions along with obituaries, photos of your ancestors, and their birth and death certificates would be a genealogical treasure in itself. Or you could do a scrapbook focusing on family reunions. If you have a family reunion; take as many photos as you can, and write in all of the information you can get your hands on about the people in them. As I said before, you are only limited by your imagination, but if you need a little inspiration, read our article on Great Tips and Tools for Building Scrapbook Family Trees.

Preserve Family Interviews

In the course of compiling your family history you will interview many interesting relatives who will have numerous entertaining tales to tell about your ancestors. Make sure that you preserve those interviews in an orderly, easy-to-understand format. If you are using a digital recording methods, backup and save copies of your interviews on CD ROMs. Perhaps you could keep them in a decorative case, with the interview transcriptions and notes about your relatives and ancestors accompanying the recordings. Again, there is no limit to what you can add to any of these projects, and if you need a little guidance on how to conduct interviews with relatives you can download our Insider Guide which contains everything you need to know about the basics of tracing your family history.

Transcribe and Digitize Diaries, Journals and Personal Letters

If you’ve been fortunate enough to inherit an ancestor’s journal, diary, or even personal letters, you’ll want to make sure they are carefully preserved. One way is to transcribe them yourself onto acid-free paper, or make copies of them on the same. Because we are living in a very technology oriented society, we can safely assume that any relatives who come after us will do much of their research and family history charting on computers. Saving or making digital copies of them in several formats will ensure that they are around for years to come, and remain accessible to relatives who may wish to pursue your family history further.

Leave Your Own Story Behind

A great way to help future relatives to continue your family legacy is to leave your own story behind. You could write your own life story; where you were born, who your parents and siblings were, where you worked, went to school; anything you can think of about yourself that may help others to pursue your family history. You don’t need to be an eloquent or practiced writer to do so. Writing in your own words and style will help your descendants get a better idea of who you are as a person, and getting to know our ancestors on a personal level is one of the true joys of genealogy, so pass it on!

If you find writing your life story a bit daunting, try writing a daily journal, but include as many genealogical facts as you can in each entry. If you’re writing about something as simple as having coffee with your cousin, include who their parents were, where they lives and went to school or work. All of that kind of information can help future generations get to know those who came before them better, and preserve your family legacy at the same time!

Hopefully you will find these ideas fulfilling and fun. They are creative, fun ways to help preserve a family history. Not only will they provide future generations with important genealogical data, but entertain them as well!