It’s the Little Things: Family Heirlooms are Family History

When my kids were little I would pack away some of their mountain of toys. Then every so often I would bring them back in to “play circulation” and pack up another batch. To the kids, it was like getting brand new toys!

Our recent move has been sort of like that. As I unpacked boxes of bubble-wrapped baubles it was like finding new family heirlooms all over again.

One example is quite small: a single vintage clip-on earring.

It belonged to my beloved Grandma Burkett. Even though it had lost its match long ago, I couldn’t bear to part with it. As I unwrapped the seemingly useless single earring I was immediately struck with how I could use it. I clipped it in my hair at the end of my french braid!

family heirlooms

Later that day I went shopping with my daughter, and several people stopped to compliment the jewel and inquire about it. When I explained it originally belonged to my Grandmother, faces lit up and family history conversations started to flow. All from one little thing…

Your challenge this week:  Look at what you have with fresh eyes, and share your family history with the world in little ways!

Visit my Family History Craft Projects Pinterest board or click here to read more blog posts about inspiring family history craft and display projects.

– Lisa

Heritage Cookbooks: Recipe for a Sweet Family History

Cover of an 1865 cookbook that's been republished by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Cover of an 1865 cookbook that’s been republished by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Recently I heard from Jillian in Arkansas, USA, who wrote about “a recent – and accidental” family history discovery she made in a family cookbook.

“Not long ago, I was listening to archived episodes of your Genealogy Gems podcast where you and a guest were discussing using an address book as a source for research.

“That tidbit stuck with me, and I began to rummage through my things to see if I could find my grandmother’s old exceedingly edited book. No such luck. Just the other night, while trying to decide what to cook for supper, I found something almost as delightful: my great-grandmother passed several cookbooks to me after her death, many with her own notations.

genealogy gems podcast mailboxWhen looking through it, I noticed that the book wasn’t only a cookbook, but a bit of a history book, as well. It was printed by a group of local ladies, and with each section, there is a drawing of a historical home, and an incredibly detailed description, written by the original homeowner, or one of their descendants. The year is published in the front, the community’s history, and a rundown of the prominent citizens.

“None of my direct relatives were listed, but the unexpected breath of facts–the who’s, where’s, when’s–is invaluable to anyone looking for their loved one in that area. I never would’ve considered a cookbook as a source for genealogy research, but there it was, on a shelf, with my great-grandmother’s other books. And of course, I’m scouring them for relatives right now.”

Thanks to Jillian for writing in: click here to check out her family history blog about heritage cookbooks. The podcast episode she mentioned was likely one of our Genealogy Gems book club conversations about She Left Me the Gun, in which the author used her mother’s address book to learn family history.

Do you love the combination of food and family history? Or browsing heritage cookbooks as a window into the past? I do! I invite you to:

Link Your Home Movies to Your Family Tree

figure_at_3d_movie_800_13404More old home movies are being digitized and more historical footage is coming online. Do you know how to integrate these with your family tree or blog? Wouldn’t it be great to show that you found great-grandpa in four censuses, the SSDI and a 1937 news reel showing him driving his fire truck? (That really did happen to me. Click here to read about it and see the footage.)

Here a few ways you can share your old family footage online:

1. If you have have a free Google account, then you have a free YouTube channel! You can upload old footage as well as movies YOU make of still images. Then you can use the Share > Embed feature to include the video on your own genealogy blogs. Click here to watch an inspiring video Lisa made about her ancestor, a nurse in training.

2. If you have Legacy Republic digitize your old family movies, you can upload them through your Legacy Republic account into your FamilySearch family tree. (Click here to watch a video about how it works.)

3. Add an online video source citation to your Ancestry tree. Create a new source in an ancestor’s individual profile. The Source Citation section asks for any URL related to this citation. Enter the URL. Then it asks whether you have media items to attach. You will be walked through the process of uploading video from your own computer. If you choose the option to record a video, Ancestry will access your computer’s microphone and camera and record you speaking for up to 12 minutes.

tv_film_icon_400_wht_15178 (1)Wish you knew more about how making or finding family footage? Learn more here:

  • Genealogy Gems Premium members can click here to access a Premium podcast and video on how to create your own family history video (learn more about Premium membership here).
  • Click here to watch Lisa’s free YouTube series about blogging your family history or click here to listen to free Family History Made Easy podcast episodes about genealogy blogging (episodes 38-42).
  • Learn about finding and using old film footage on YouTube and other websites in the updated-for-2015 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (there’s an entire, expanded chapter on YouTube that inspired my own find of that 1937 newsreel).

 

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