How to Be the Family Historian

Uncovering long-lost family stories that can be shared over holiday get-togethers and passed down to future generations is thrilling and important, but being the family historian is a hobby that comes with its own set of challenges. Tracking genealogy, making detailed family trees, and preserving old heirlooms requires some planning. Follow these five tips to make documenting family history easier and more fun!

1. Combine all family materials. It’s a lot easier to have everything you need within reach when you want to cross-reference dates or trace family connections. After sharing your ideas with relatives, ask to borrow their photo albums and records. Make copies of their documents so that you have a complete collection.

2. Ask questions. Personal interviews are one of the best ways to capture family history. Ordinary stories can take on a new meaning when persevered and passed down. Names, addresses, relationships, and stories should be recorded. Whenever possible, videotape older relatives discussing their childhood and ancestry. Make sure you’re also prepared to take note of informal conversations. When you go to family events, keep a small notebook on hand to jot down new information. You never know when you might find a detail that is worth preserving.

3. Have a system. Develop a standard procedure for organizing family albums, letters and paperwork. Preserving your family history is just as important as making new discoveries. Without structure, smaller items can be easily misplaced or lost. For documents and photo storage, use durable boxes or small filing cabinets with built-in organizers. Make sure to label meticulously using a chronological or alphabetical system.

4. Learn how to use genealogical resources. Take advantage of tools historical information and personal information gathering tools online and in your area. Searchable genealogy websites, local libraries, hospital records, and regional genealogical societies are all great go-to resources for piecing together your family’s past.

5. Rent a self storage unit. A self storage unit is the perfect solution for your growing collection of family documents, photographs and valuables. With features like climate control for sensitive antique storage and photo storage as well as round the clock surveillance, storage units are ideal for serious family historians who need space and privacy.

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