Preserving Your Family History
Do your children know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know your father's favorite childhood memory? Does your family hail from other parts of the world? If your children don't know the answers to these questions, October is the perfect time to celebrate Family History Month and explore your family's past. By learning more about our heritage, we learn more about ourselves. Sharing these stories with your children is a remarkable family activity that can help them better understand their roots and shape their own identities.
There are many ways to share your family history including making a family scrapbook, recording family stories, and cooking favorite family recipes together. We hope that the following ideas will help you to preserve some of your family traditions, and perhaps set some new ones in motion.
Family History Scrapbooks
One of the best ways to share your family's past together is to create a family scrapbook. By compiling photographs, documents, and letters into a hand-made album, you can create a treasured collection of family memorabilia to be passed on from generation to generation. The American Family Immigration History Center (AFHIC) (www.ellisisland.org) also provides a unique opportunity to assemble your own family history in the form of an on-line scrapbook.
The AFIHC is a division of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, formed in 1982 to oversee the preservation of the two historic landmarks. Their Family History Scrapbook is a great way to create not only a personal record of your family history, but one that can be easily shared with children and friends. Membership in the AFIHC provides you with all the software you need to create a sixteen-page scrapbook. In this electronic scrapbook, you can store images, audio files, and text of your choosing. In addition to your own personal images, users are given limited access to the Center’s image archives for older, harder to find pictures.
Putting together the scrapbook is simply a matter of following step-by-step menus, though a familiarity with different image and audio file types will be a help. The scrapbook tools will automatically resize images for you, so knowledge of image editing is not required. However, access to a scanner is a must unless you already happen to have family photos in digital format. Or, for those who are able, members can actually travel to the Ellis Island Center and use their wide array of computers, scanners, and audio recording equipment.
Once your scrapbook is assembled, you can choose to leave it as a private archive, or to post it publicly for all other users to peruse. In addition, members receive one free copy of their scrapbook upon completion, either in the form of a printed copy, or in digital format on a CD. Additional pages may be purchased in sets of fifteen online, and extra copies of your scrapbook may be purchased at the AFIHC’s online store. Should you decide that you want to add more to your records at a later point, that isn’t a problem; updates can be added at any time.
For more information on starting a Family Scrapbook, visit the Ellis Island website at: http://www.ellisisland.org. And for more information on researching your family history online or offline, be sure to pick up Climbing Your Family Tree: On-Line And Off-Line Geneology for Kids, the official Ellis Island Handbook. The book teaches kids to track down important family documents, including ships' manifests, naturalization papers, and birth, marriage, and death certificates; create oral histories; make scrapbooks of photos, sayings, and legends; and compile a family tree.
Reprinted with the permission of the Parents' Choice Foundation. © Copyright 2012 Parents' Choice Foundation. All rights reserved.
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