Family Reunions: An Opportunity to Collaborate on Family History
How was your last family reunion spent? I’m sure you had a great spread of food, including favorite family dishes, some activities for the kids and perhaps even a family tree chart or a display highlighting the family’s history. Even if there wasn’t a book or binder with all the genealogy information for family to share, I’m sure there were plenty of conversations about parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles—all of whom have passed on.
Family Gatherings and Missed Opportunities
How many family reunions have you attended where you wished you could somehow capture all of the information that was being shared? Cousins swapping names of relatives, correcting each other as to birth dates and family stories. And what about photos being passed around and the conversations sparked by seeing family members in days gone by?
Start Planning Now!
As the “keeper of the family history,” as we genealogists are often known (and there’s always one in each family), we’re always looking for those opportunities to collect and gather more information.
I find it is easier to take a proactive approach to facilitating the sharing of family history information at family events. This means plan ahead! Also, to keep family members engaged and interested, I try to mix it up and take a different approach than the usual phone call or email telling family members to “bring stuff” to the reunion.
Here are some ideas:
- Set up a family history scan site at the reunion. Have you attended genealogy conferences where companies like Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com) offer to scan your photos and documents? Why not use a Flip-Pal mobile scanner (http://flip-pal.com) to make it easy to scan photos right at the reunion? Ask family members to bring items for scanning and explain how the process will work. Create an instruction sheet so everyone will know how items will be scanned, where they will be stored and how they can be accessed later. If Ancestry can do it, so can you!
- Capture names and dates for photos. Don’t forget that the Flip-Pal Sketch Kit makes it easy to “annotate” photos without harming the original. Use it to write names, dates and places related to the photo before scanning.
- Use family group sheets to collect information. Rather than have family members send you long written notes and narratives with the latest updates as to births, deaths, etc., why not send them blank family group sheet forms ahead of time? They can fill them out and then submit them at the reunion. In fact, set up a contest with a drawing as an incentive to ensure the forms are submitted. Also, make sure you have a set of blank forms on hand at the reunion for folks to fill out. Check out the list of free family history forms at Cyndi’s List (http://www.cyndislist.com/free-stuff/printable-charts-and-forms/).
- Get the children involved! Create an activity using copies of family photos and small cards with names, dates and locations where the kids have to match the photo with the correct information card. Here’s another idea: create a blank family tree and have them place the photos on the tree in the correct arrangement.
- Use memory prompts to get great stories. Don’t rely on open-ended questions to gather family history information; instead, create printed “prompts” that will inspire family members to reach the depths of their memory for those family stories and facts about ancestors. Cover all the bases including school days, first date, first car, first job, weather, clothes, shopping and more. It would be fun to have a Memory Jar where someone has to reach in and pick a prompt and then give his or her answer!
- Remember those old photo booths? Why not set up a fun photo booth or even a video interview booth to capture images and stories from family members at the reunion. Create a sign-up sheet so families can reserve a time for their close up!
- Create an email newsletter and notify family members. Do you remember receiving holiday newsletters from family members at the end of the year? Why not create a similar newsletter either online or using e-mail. There are plenty of options including free programs like MailChimp (http://www.mailchimp.com), or just use your current email program. Stick to a monthly schedule and help maintain the excitement about the reunion!
The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Can Help
There is a lot to do and lots of fun right? It is never too early to get started on being the “family history fun facilitator” for your next event. The holiday season will be here sooner than you think and of course don’t forget next summer’s family reunion! Get started now by scanning your previous family photos, important family history documents and even military medals and other 3-dimensional mementos.
Judy H., shared her experience as a recent Flip-Pal customer:
"I am going to a family reunion next month and doing a presentation of family pictures dating back to the mid 1800's. I have hundreds of pictures that I would have had to scan with my printer and then save and I was dreading doing it because of the countless hours it would've taken me. I received an email about the Flip-Pal and then went online, checked it out and bought it. A few nights ago, as I was watching TV, I scanned over 200 pictures in a couple of hours...this product is amazing!!! I have another couple hundred to scan and am actually looking forward to doing it now. Thanks for such an awesome product!"
Make sure you have a Flip-Pal mobile scanner ready to capture all those photos and documents right on-site at the reunion. Believe me—folks may promise you they’ll scan the items themselves and post them online or email them, but once they get home it is so easy to get wrapped up in other projects and guess what? A year goes by, the next family reunion arrives and the process starts all over.