Getting to Know Your Ancestors
One of the most rewarding aspects of genealogy is learning about who your ancestors were as individuals. It’s important to remember that genealogy isn’t only about scouring through documents in libraries and online resources. Chances are you have a few heirlooms in your family. These items are a great place to begin learning more about your ancestors’ lives, while at the same time, getting your family more involved in their genealogy.
Heirlooms can include various objects such as jewelry, clothing, furniture, books, diaries, photos, toys and much more. Take a careful look at any jewelry you may find. Often these pieces are engraved with an inscription or initials/names. Also, old lockets may still have a photograph inside. Try to identify who’s in the photo; perhaps this may lead you a previously unknown relative! An old military uniform can lead you to military records, while wedding dresses can provide you with insight into family traditions and tastes. Furniture belonging to your ancestors may tell you more about their lifestyle and economic status. And old diaries and photos are incredibly valuable first hand accounts of your ancestor’s lives.
Every heirloom or keepsake has a story connected with it. Gather your heirlooms and sit with family members to record and share the stories behind them. Find out who the items originally belonged to and how it was passed down in your family. You may learn intimate details about your ancestors: who they were, what activities they were involved in, and a more personal view about the era in which they lived. Take pictures of the heirlooms and record these memories in your ancestor’s Geni profile to share with your relatives. Perhaps they will be able to add more stories about your family!
And make sure to store your family heirlooms in a secure location to preserve for future generations!
What stories do your family heirlooms tell?