The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to collect and document family history!
You might be feeling the urge to rattle off everything you’ve learned about your family’s genealogy this year while reconnecting and gathering with loved ones. However, that can be overwhelming for others to take in at once.
As a family historian, think of all the time you’ve spent searching for information, bit-by-bit. That’s an effective way to share your genealogical discoveries, too!
Don't worry, we've got you covered. Here's kinkofa's list of discreet tips to get leads on your family history research efforts without being that relative.
Family History Trivia🏆
An easy way to get the fam excited (and unintentionally sharing oral history) is a quick game of trivia. It’s a suitable activity for your next virtual or in-person family gathering.
“What year was grandma born? Who made the desserts at family gatherings when you were younger?” Throw in some “trick” questions and you might get a handful of stories, questions, and rabbit-hole conversations.
Get inspired with the sample family history trivia questions below and drop a few of your own in the comments!
👴🏽 Who is the oldest family member? (1 point)
👶🏿 Who is the youngest family member? (1 point)
🍽️ Which recipes are always on the holiday menu? (1 point each)
📍 What states has the family lived in? (1 point each)
🐕 How many family pets can you name and what are they? (1 point each)
🌳 Starting with you, how many generations back can you name on this side of the family? (1 point each)
📷 Who is in this photo? [show photo] (1 point for each person named)
👨👩👧👧 What does family mean to you? (1 point)
Sleuthing Scavenger Hunt 🔎
It’s the perfect time of year to document, scan, and preserve!
Depending on the gathering spot, a scavenger hunt for photos, records and family relics may be in order.
Make sure you get permission for this one– maybe start with a simple question like Do you have any photos of Auntie So-and-so? or I’ve never seen a funeral program for Mama Flora, do you have one?
(Hint: ask to see something that you know they have, with fingers crossed to see and scan the whole collection. But also, maybe just ask? 🤷🏽♀️)
Or, perhaps it’s your own closets, photo albums, and shoe boxes that need to be raided?
As the stellar genealogist you are, you’ve been spending the year on Zoom webinars, in Freedmen’s Bureau records, or at your nearest historical archive --don’t worry, we won’t tell 😷. Now, you'd like to show the fam what you’ve found, right? We ain’t mad at it.
And you didn’t hear this from us, but 🤫 they might not want to see all of that. A little can go a long way – try breaking them off with a teaser of what you’ve found and see how far it goes.
You found a really old, but new-to-you photo? Great, lead with that! Old timey, mysterious black and white, tintypes, and even Polaroids will beg the question, “who is that?”
That’s when you share a few details that you’ve discovered in your genealogy digging, leaving just enough mystique and interest for more lines of questioning (or challenges) from your audience. Or maybe they know just who’s pictured and have more than a few stories to give you.
Document the present! ✍️
Always the storyteller, never the protagonist 🙄. You have a story, too! We know you were stylin’ and profiling back in the day, but don’t you wish you had photos of your ancestors throughout their entire lives? Or knowledge of their favorite things and personal style? Be that ancestor!
Take some new photos, get them printed, and preserve them in the Cloud. What was on the menu this holiday season? Does the recipe book need updating? Who was new on the holiday guest list? 👀
Get Cookin’ 🍳
Speaking of recipes…some of our traditions aren’t about what’s on paper, but what we know and know how to do. Is the next generation going to keep those traditions going?
Share a recipe, inquire about the history behind a family dish, or cook with a loved one this holiday season. It’s one of the greatest intergenerational gifts and is a surefire way to create new memories.
Or, perhaps help preserve the culture by learning to make Dr. Jessica B. Harris’ New Orleans style pralines!
We hope these suggestions help you get past a brick wall in your genealogy journey!
Want more family history discovery tips? Join the kinkofa community and get access to genealogy research guides, tips and support.