Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Share your family history with grandchildren

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

There are several ways people can give the gift of history to their families. Perhaps the most fun method is for grandparents to work with their grandchildren on family history scrapbooks.

“Grandparents are in a unique position to make family history come alive,” said David Burton, civic communication specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

Burton says grandparents can connect grandchildren with their family history in many easy ways, like collecting and sharing family records and photos, handing down favorite recipes, visiting places of family significance and joining in family reunions.

“For their grandchildren, grandparents can be the link between the past and the future,” said Burton. “I know my own son marvels at the fact that his great-grandmother grew up without a car or a telephone. He has learned that from talking with her and then that provides a connection to all of the family photos we have displayed in our home.”

Burton says there are several easy ways to begin sharing the family history with grandchildren. All of the methods begin with gathering and preserving family information like photos, letters, medals, official documents, recipes and heirlooms.

“One fun method is to put all of these documents into a family scrapbook. Grandchildren can help and they can learn through the process,” said Burton.

Videotaping family members telling stories, developing a catalog of family heirlooms with stories surrounding them, making a family cookbook or putting together a family photo album are also activities grandchildren can help do.

“Children learn best by doing so the key is to involve them in the work. One thing I am doing is gathering family mementos and pictures into scrapbooks and displays throughout our house so my children can give family and friends tours of our own family museum,” said Burton.

"The History of Me” is a 20 - page guide developed by Burton that is full of questions that will guide a person toward preserving a personal history for future generations. The same questions can be used by an interviewer trying to record another person’s history. The booklet is available for free online at http://extension.missouri.edu/swregion/news/.

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