Read these 13 Preserving Your Family History Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Genealogy tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you find yourself with a large collection of old family photographs, make sure that you're taking all the necessary steps to preserve them properly.
The following sites can give you the information you need to make sure that future generations will be able to enjoy this aspect of their family heritage:
Guidelines For Preserving Your Photographic Heritage by Ralph G. McKnight
TIPS FOR PRESERVING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS AND DOCUMENTS by "JUST BLACK & WHITE'S"
Did you know that black and white photographs last longer than color photographs? It's true! The color images are chemically instable - especially Polaroid pictures.
So, in order to preserve your memories as long as possible, make sure you take some black and white photos of any memorable family or historical events along with the color photos. Your great-grandchildren will be glad you did!
Are there some old photographs that your Great-Uncle Jim just won't let out of his sight for duplication? If so, take a camera with you and take pictures of those pictures! You'll get the best results using a basic single lens reflex 35 mm camera - not the auto focus type. The basic lens on your camera, usually not less than a 50mm lens, will usually focus close enough to copy the old photos.
Before you begin interviewing members of your family, you need to sit down and make a few plans! Here are some things you need to consider:
1) If you're looking strictly for family history information - names, dates, places, etc. - start with your oldest relatives first. As we all know, but hate to think about, these loved ones won't always be around to share their knowledge with us.
2) Set an objective for your interview. Decide exactly what information you want to gain from the interview. Are you looking for names? Information about a certain event? Family stories?
3) Make a list of those people who will be most likely to fulfill your research objective, and contact them to see if they are open to talking with you.
4) Ask your interview subject to collect old documents or photos that will help trigger their memories and provide good fodder for interview questions.
Always start with the person you know the most about - yourself!
You may not think that writing down things about yourself is that exciting, but you are the starting link back to your ancestors. Each piece of information may lead you to another. Fill in the family record and pedigree charts with the information you know ... your birth date, birthplace, hospital born in, when you got married, attended college, which college, high school or grammar school and its location, etc. Do the same thing for your parents, your grandparents and all the other relatives you know about.
Once you've decided to do an interview, you need to prepare your questions.
To get the fullest (and most interesting!) answers from your interview subject, you should avoid using close-ended questions - those that require only "yes" or "no" answers. Use open-ended questions that will encourage your interviewee to talk, such as "Tell me what you remember about your family's first home."
Once you have determined what questions you will ask, place each question on an index card for easy use during the interview.
The following sites have lists of some great interview questions for your perusal:
Before you go to your interview, test your equipment to make sure it is in good working order and that you know how to use all the features.
Here is a list of items you should take with you:
Address of interview location
Map to interview location
Photographs or other items you want to ask about
If an audio interview:
Audio tape recorder
If a video interview:
It is a good idea to remove any wrappings from the tapes and label the tapes ahead of time. This will cut down on interuptions during the interview which may break up the flow.
Wouldn't you love to know the layout of your grandparent's and great-grandparent's homes? Your descendants will appreciate *you* for leaving them this wonderful keepsake.
If you have a copy of the architect's floorplan of your home, you can have a copy center reduce it to a size that will fit into your scrapbook. If not, get our drawing tools and draw one yourself!
You can add pieces of fabric and wallpapers used, if you have any leftover. And don't forget to include room-by-room photos!
For those of you with children, a great way to preserve your family history is to start saving your child's school records or other special artifacts from their time in class. It is a neat way to pass down information about your family for generations to come.
Better yet, if you have special memories of your time in school, even though it may have been quite some time ago, start now by writing those memories down and putting them in a place where future generations can find them. Think about your favorite teachers, your favorite school activities and your friends. Write about them all. Try adding your yearbooks to your pile of information for an added bonus!