Google is a great place to learn about family
Using any internet browser you can search for information about your ancestors, such as the places they lived.
Take some time to just see what you may find out there about your family. It is actually quite amazing what you can find on Google anymore.
The old photo above was called Gwynn's Bridge, built to span the American Fork River in Placer County, California, from nearby Rattlesnake Bar a small mining town in the middle 1800s. My 2nd Great Grandfather lived there with his family doing some part time mining and running a small grocery store. His little town now is located under water behind Folsom Dam in the Sacramento, California area. Just viewing the photo, I can better imagine what the area must have been like during the times that he and his family lived there. I'm sure that they used that bridge many times going back & forth into the big city of Auburn.
Search for things that may have been everyday sights for your ancestors. The photo below is a replica of the Dunbrody "famine or coffin ships" that carried many Irish emigrants to the USA or to Canada.
My ancestors came from Northern Ireland on ships just like these. While on a tour of Ireland a few years ago, I was able to actually see the small size and characteristics of what these famine ships looked like. I developed a greater feeling for my ancestors as I pictured in my mind what it would have been like to sail the ocean on a small ship such as this.
Every family has "old things" that have been handed down through the years from ancestors. It could be a pair of great grandpa's glasses. Try them on. Touch them. How about a poem written by an ancestor on an old piece of paper, or an old letter? How about grandma's old dress? Or as to the right, touch great grandpa's old medical instruments.
How about grandma's doll, or her old wedding dress? I have an English Oak wooden vase that my father created while in high school about 1945 that sits in our living room.
It is important that our children and grandchildren explore those heirlooms as it helps to connect them to their ancestors.
It is a wonderful blessing to be able to hear grandma sing a song in her native language, or to hear an ancestor tell of life experiences.
How many of our families have old tape recordings or cassettes, or stories told on VHS tapes by ancestors? We can help you digitize these stories and upload them to Family Tree. We have the equipment to do so.
If you do not have any recordings, then start to create recordings of your life by using your smartphone. Let your grandkids hear you tell a fun story that teaches them important principles. I would love to have heard the voices and stories of my ancestors. Let your children or grandchildren have the opportunity to hear you voice.
Stories could be about your mission, how you and your spouse met, difficult times in your life, funny events, etc. Stories can be up to about 15 minutes. Since we live in a "sound byte" world, it is best to keep stories short. The Memories App for the smartphone even presents you with a list of questions that you could tell a story about.
Stories help us relate to the emotions that our ancestors felt and can create a strong emotional connection with them. As we read or hear those stories, we can begin to empathize with others that may be going through similar circumstances in their lives.
One letter I have in my possession is the letter written by my great grandfather (on the right) to his wife and oldest daughter, Carol, who were back east visiting. It mentions a heart breaking incident in which his only two boys drowned in the Alameda estuary.
We also have our own heritage, our life challenges and successes that we need to share with our posterity. We should be active in preserving our thoughts, stories, and testimonies for our posterity to remember us by.
Take some time to write some brief memories about your life experiences, and then SHARE them with your posterity. Along with the story, share your testimony, feelings, or life insights with them as well.
I love to look through my great grandmother's old photo albums and try to envision what life must have been like back in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Unfortunately, there are a fair number of photographs that do not have any labels to identify who they are. My father had sat down with my grandmother in the 1980s and they went through the albums to identify the photos, but unfortunately still had to leave a fair number of them "nameless".
How sad to think of those "nameless faces" as being an ancestor, but we now won't know who they are!
Before it's too late, spend some time with your elderly relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc) and try to get the names of those old photos before it's too late. Those photos tell a story about your ancestors. Don't let those stories be lost.
There are some additional ways to get help with extended family members. 1) Scan them as good quality photos, 2) Get a free "cloud" account like Microsoft OneDrive (5gb free storage) or Google Drive (15 gb free storage) and upload the photos, 3) SHARE those photos of unnamed ancestors with your extended family and ask for help in identifying them. It's amazing how many families out there also have similar photos as yours, but may have names. Voila'…you're in luck.
If you have any questions on how to do this, we can help you at the library to get this done.
I totally wish that I had a lot more information about my great-grandparents. Actually, I wish that I also had listened more about the stories that my parents and grandparents had told me over the years growing up. Many of those stories have now been lost to my memory, and also to my posterity.
Luckily my father had spent some time writing down some stories that he remembered about his grandparents and parents. He was an only child, and so there is no one else to pass on that heritage of stories about my dad's family.
"Memories" are NOT long histories, nor even long stories. They could be only one paragraph long. Can you imagine if every child and grandchild of a grandfather began writing a short memory about their grandfather, there would be lots of "remembrances" of who he was, what his life may have been like, etc.
It does NOT take a long time to write a memory, 5-10" tops. Take some time to write about a family member. FamilySearch makes it so easy to create these stories and even attach photos to them. Don't just let those stories sit in FamilySearch for others to find them. SHARE them with your family members. Yep! It's very much like Facebook or other social platforms, except far more interesting, right?
Here is another example of a story that I wrote about being a shipboard medical officer aboard a ship, rescuing a boatload of Vietnamese refugees out in the South China Sea.
After I had shared this with my posterity, two of my sons messaged me that they had never heard that story before. I had forgotten that it happened in my life years before they were born.
Share YOUR life stories with your family so they have those memories for their posterity.
Journals are great to pass on your thoughts, life challenges, your testimony, etc to your posterity. In the early 1980s, we were encouraged as church members to begin writing in our journals. For me, it was much less frustrating to organize my thoughts by using a digital medium, like a computer. However, it is also fun to see what your ancestors handwriting was like back many years ago. Journals can now be scanned easily and then SHARED with other family members. Journals can also harbor short stories of events that could be typed into FamilySearch stories and then shared with others.
Scrapbooks are also a fun way of expressing your life through a combination of photos and annotations. Don't forget to save a digitized or preserved copy as well. There is nothing like a flood, fire, or theft that wipes out a lot of your life's memories.
Movies are a fun medium to record family events. With the advent of simplified movie editing software, these types of movies are easy to create. Don't know how? Ask your school age children how to do this. They are often taught these skills in middle school.