Celebrate Family History Month and Explore Your Lineage

Three generations of family celebrating

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October is designated in many places as "Family History Month," and genealogists everywhere have adopted the month as their own. Whether you're new to genealogy or have devoted a lifetime to it, celebrate Family History Month with your family this October by trying one (or more) of these ten wonderful ways to craft and commemorate your past.

01
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Get Started Tracing Your Family Tree

Family history research compiling family trees and old photographs

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If you have been curious about your family tree but just aren't sure where to start, then you don't have any more excuses. Here is a great collection of resources and simple advice on how to get started researching your family tree both on and off the Internet.

02
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Create a Family Cookbook

A spiral notebook maintained with accurate, color-coded tabs full of family recipes

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A perfect recipe for family history, a cookbook of collected heirloom recipes is a wonderful way to preserve memories of favorite meals shared with family. Contact your parents, grandparents, and other relatives and ask them to send you a few of their favorite family recipes. Have them include a story about each dish, where or who it was handed down from, why it is a family favorite, and when it was traditionally eaten (Christmas, family reunions, etc.). Whether you create a full-blown family cookbook, or just make copies for family and friends, this is a gift that will be cherished forever.

03
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Record Family Stories

Adult mother and daughter share a laugh over their favorite family stories
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Every family has its own history—the events, personalities, and traditions that make the family unique—and collecting these singular stories and memories is one of the most meaningful ways you and your family can honor your older relatives and preserve family traditions. Recording family stories on audiotape, videotape, or in legacy journals brings family members closer together, bridges generation gaps, and ensures that your family stories will be preserved for future generations.

04
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Uncover Your Family Health History

Aging mother and daughter discuss their family medical history with a healthcare provider

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Also known as medical genealogy, tracing your family health history is a fun, and potentially lifesaving, project. Experts state that about 3000 of the 10,000 known diseases have genetic links, and that many diseases "run in families," including colon cancer, heart disease, alcoholism, and high blood pressure. Creating a family health history can be a useful tool to aid you and your medical care provider in interpreting patterns of health, illness. and genetic traits for you and your descendants. What you learn now could potentially save a family member's life tomorrow.

05
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Take a Trip Back in Time

A young family of four take a family history journey to another country to learn about their ancestral homeland

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Grab a map, and hop in the car for a family adventure! A fun way to celebrate your family history is to visit sites of importance to your family—the old family homestead, the house where you were born, the country from which your ancestors migrated, the hillside where you played as a child, or the cemetery where great-grandpa is buried. If none of these locations is near to your home, then consider a trip to a historical museum, battlefield, or re-enactment event that relates to the history of your family.

06
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Scrapbook Your Family Heritage

Hands cut out intricate borders to frame old family photos for a scrapbook

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The perfect place to showcase and protect your precious family photos, heirlooms, and memories, a heritage scrapbook album is wonderful way to document your family's history and create a lasting gift for future generations. While it may seem a daunting task when faced with boxes of dusty old photos, scrapbooking is fun and easier than you might think!

07
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Start a Family Website

Grandmother and granddaughter researching online

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If your extended family relies on email to stay in touch, then a family website may be for you. Serving as a digital scrapbook and meeting spot, a family website allows you and your kids to share family photos, favorite recipes, funny stories, and even your family tree research. If you or someone in your family is a web designer, by all means, go to town. If you're more of a beginner, however, don't worry. There are plenty of free online services that make creating a family website a snap!

08
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Preserve Your Family Pictures

Aging hands working to preserve old family photographs in acid-free photo albums

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Make this the month that you finally get the family photos out of the shoe boxes or bags in the back of your closet, track down the photo you've never seen of your great-grandparents, or ask Grandma to help you put names to the faces of all of those unmarked photos in your family album. Try your hand at scanning them into your computer, or hire someone to do it for you, and then store the originals in acid-free photo boxes or albums. Same thing goes for the family movies! Then share some of your photo finds with the family, by creating a family photo calendar or a family photo book!

09
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Get the Next Generation Involved

Grandmother shares a photo album with her granddaughter

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Most children will learn to appreciate their family history if you turn it into a detective game. Start your children or grandchildren on a lifelong journey of discovery by introducing them to genealogy. Here are some wonderful projects to do with your children this month including games, family history and heritage projects and online lessons.

10
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Craft a Heritage Gift

Old photo of a father and daughter hugging on a Christmas oranment

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From picture frame Christmas ornaments to heritage quilts, your family history makes a great gift! Homemade gifts are often inexpensive but are favorites with the recipients. They don't have to be anything complicated, either. Something as simple as a framed photo of a favorite ancestor can bring tears to someone's eyes. Best of all, making a family heritage gift is often more fun than giving one!