365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: October 2006

365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: October 2006

Make 2006 a breakthrough year for your family tree quest with our tip-a-day research calendar.


1. Set the stage for Family History Month by listening to inspiring tunes such as Neil Diamond’s “America” or “Lady Liberty” by Orleans. Steve Lanza’s Ancestral Songs album is another good one.

2. Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is today. Access Yizkor books, cemetery information, databases and more at Jewish Gen <www.jewishgen.org>.

3. Visit the Ontario Virtual Reference Library <www.virtualreferencelibrary.ca> for resources on your Canadian roots (start with the Genealogy category).

4. What did your ancestors earn in today’s dollars? Let the Inflation Calculator <www.westegg.com/inflation> tell you.

5. Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner. Create heirloom photo ornaments as gifts. For instructions, see <genealogy.about.com/cs/holidays/p/ornament.htm>.

6. Interest a youngster in family history with old photos and a family tree chart. Tell a story about an ancestor’s life or your own.

7. Reach out to your local community by organizing a family history workshop at a senior citizens center, Rotary club, library or historical society.

8. The genealogy class you’re eyeing doesn’t fit your schedule? Sign up for a free online course at About.com <genealogy.about.com/library/lessons/blintro.htm>, Barnes & Noble University <university.barnesandnoble.com> or other Web sites.

9. Italian-Americans traditionally celebrate their heritage on Columbus Day. See the June 2005 Family Tree Magazine and use the resources at <www.italiangen.org>.

10. Share your excitement with a relative who doesn’t “get” your genealogy passion by framing an old record about one of his or her ancestors.

11. Design a family photo calendar using a free template from one of the Internet sites at <desktoppub.about.com/od/calendartemplates>, or get help from a copy shop or photo processing center.

12. Retrieve that plan you sketched out and create your family history CD or DVD. Get step-by-step help from <genealogy.about.com/cs/publishing/a/genealogy_cd.htm>.

13. Stop by the StoryCorps project’s Web site <storycorps.net> and make an appointment to interview a relative at a MobileBooth. Or download a do-it-yourself guide to recording an interview.

14. Create a “wearable scrapbook” with photo jewelry from Memory Maker <www.memorymakerbracelet.com>.

15. Trek to a local FHC to read microfilm and use online databases for free.

16. Set up an online family communication center. In about three minutes, you can create a password-protected Web site at MyFamily.com <www.myfamily.com> for about $29.95 per year.

17. Start a family health history tree using medical records and the free My Family Health Portrait software <www.hhs.gov/familyhistory/download.html>. It may save your life—or a loved one’s.

18. Design a scrapbook layout or collage with family cemetery souvenirs. Include tombstone rubbings, photographs, obituaries, graveyard history and a map.

19. Search the Library of Congress’ vast online American Memory Project <memory.loc.gov/ammem> for digitized historical maps, photographs, documents, newspapers and oral histories.

20. Ask relatives for their favorite recipes, as well as photos or stories of times the foods were served. Put together a family cookbook or recipe box. Consult Kathy Steligo’s Meals and Memories: How To Create Keepsake Cookbooks (Carlo Press) for guidance.

21. Celebrate Sweetest Day by writing about a sweet moment in your life, such as your first kiss, best prom date or the day you met your spouse.

22. Type up a one-page profile about a favorite ancestor. Add photos, print it on nice paper, frame it and you’ve got a great present. Refer to the December 2005 Family Tree Magazine for more heritage-themed gift ideas.

23. Generate a GEDCOM with your genealogy software and post it to a pedigree database such as Ancestry World Tree <www.ancestry.com/awt> or Gen Circles Global Tree <www.gencircles.com/globaltree>.

24. Go to UnsolvedAncestry <www.unsolvedancestry.com> and offer a reward to whoever can smash your brick wall—or earn a few bucks solving someone else’s problem.

25. Don’t let the past slip away—spend a half-hour learning techniques to preserve your heirlooms. Two excellent sources: <archives.gov/preservation/family-archives> and Caring for Your Family Treasures by Jane S. Long and Richard W. Long (Heritage Preservation).

26. Get help deciphering old hand writing. See <www.amberskyline.com/treasuremaps/oldhand.html> and check out Kip Sperry’s Reading Early American Handwriting (Genealogical Publishing Co.).

27. Start a family tree quilt, wall hanging or other keepsake project.

28. Apply for an Honoring Our Ancestors grant <www.honoringourancestors.com/grants.html> to help fund your society’s transcription project or workshop.

29. Daylight Savings Time ends —“fall back” and get an extra hour to search an online database you haven’t tried. See <www.familytreemagazine.com/101sites/2005> for suggestions.

30. Before you’re too busy with holiday errands, get yourself to the library for a hot-and-heavy research session.

31. This Halloween, do some ghost busting and visit a cemetery. Banish skeletons from your past with the Skeletons in our Closet Newsletter <www.angelfire.com/mi4/skeltons/Newsletter.html>.

 From the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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