01 September 2022
Do you wish your great-grandparents had kept a diary of their thoughts and activities? Or that you knew who every person on a treasured wedding photo was? Read on to discover how you can become a great ancestor for your own descendants.
A good part of the fun of family history is uncovering those clues that help you trace your family tree, find new ancestors and discover priceless details about what life was like in days gone by. But genealogy has its frustrations, with things like old photos without names and dates, a brick wall caused by lack of documents, and also sadly, family stories lost forever once a person is no longer with us.
If you can relate to this, read on to find out how you can become a good ancestor and make sure that future family historians can find out everything they need to know about you and your generation.
1. Label photos
Every time you print a photo of save it into a digital collection, make a note to include names and dates at a minimum. And when you get chance, why not curate a small collection of 'star' photos where you name every person, detail the relationship between each and include date and location?
2. Keep a diary
Official documents and photos are a crucial part of family history but nothing puts flesh on the bones quite like reading someone's thoughts and feelings. As none of us need reminding, 2020 has been quite a year and it will be really interesting for future generations of your family to understand how you and your family coped during the Covid-19 pandemic, how it affected your life and any changes that you made.
3. Curate a family history collection
A perfect autumn project as the nights draw in is to create a time capsule for your descendants, with an acid-free (to ensure it stands the test of time) storage box containing photos, important papers, a family tree and perhaps a diary or notes of your thoughts. Your gift to those who come after you!
4. Keep both online and offline records
To ensure your hard work on your family tree stands the test of time, it's worth keeping in mind that both paper-based and digital records should have a place in your family story. Precious originals such as birth certificates and photos can be kept safely at home, whilst you can also have digital collections backed up to the cloud, so that you aren't left without access as technology changes over the years.
5. Don't forget the family heirlooms
Do you have treasured items that have a story behind them? Perhaps a vase that belonged to your great-grandmother or a carved chair that stood in your grandfather's farm cottage? Be sure to include a record of what these items are and who they belonged to and keep the document with the rest of your family history research.
The more you can do for future generations, the better the chance your research will stand the test of time. So why not get started today?
[Originally published September 2020. Reviewed September 2022]