October – Family History Month

What a perfect opportunity to start, refresh, expand, publish, share or investigate your family tree during the month of October, which is recognized as Family History Month. If you have been coming up with excuses for not starting or further pursuing the family search, now is a great opportunity to rekindle the ‘fire‘.

One way is to buddy up with someone; your sister, a spouse, a cousin, or a friend. You can divide up the work and potentially have double the results. If you are just starting to investigate your family lineage, always begin with the most recent times, including yourself. Move to your parents and all available resources at hand such as copies of birth-marriage-death certificates, photos, deeds, documents, family Bible, letters, military records, etc. Keep organized as you put together the different items. This is where having a partner to assist is handy. If you are the better organizer, you handle that aspect and the other person does the hunting and gathering.

If you already have some work done including gathering the documents, photos and records on hand, next do some interviewing of relatives during October. Have with you something to record the interview, paper, camera and prepared questions. Never overwhelm the person by having 100 questions, but rather a few select items. Have a family tree chart which will help them remember names and dates.

October would be great to visit the local Family History Center (check phone book or online to find the nearest location). There are hundreds scattered across the country and overseas, there is very likely one nearby. Each one has convenient hours and always a volunteer there to assist you. Another location to visit is the local genealogical society. If you have not visited one in your community, check them out even if it is not the hometown of your ancestors. You would be surprised at what resources and experience in genealogy such a society in any location has to offer.

A really fun and interesting aspect to concentrate on is one specific ancestor or one family surname. After you have done a good deal of research, you may well come across one ancestor that catches your attention for any number of reasons. Take some time during October to focus on that person and learn everything possible. Discover about their childhood, schooling, places they lived, occupations and where they traveled. Was there more than one marriage during their lifetime, then learn more about each of their spouses. When you really submerse further into the research there can be some intriguing information learned.

So no matter which level you are working, the point is to make the time and put together a rewarding family history.

Photo:  Bixler family in Maryland about 1907.

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