10 Ways To Celebrate National Family History Month

That sweet little girl in the middle of the photograph is my maternal grandmother, Dolores Foerster, the youngest of eleven children. On the back of the photograph, my grandmother wrote in her lovely cursive handwriting:  "Back row: Hilda, Ella, Leo, Sr. Luke, Otto, Bruno, Laura (Sr. Marcella), Julia. Front row:  Rudy, my father Frank, myself, mother Mary Schneider, Genevieve. Foerster Family 1919."

Happy October! Did you know this is National Family History Month? In 2003, the United States Senate granted October this official status "to encourage family history research, education, and the sharing of knowledge." Here at Shine Memoirs, I am galvanized to complete several projects including framing a family heirloom, attending a genealogy workshop at my library and finally finishing the first draft of my book. Perhaps you, too, have projects underway or have been waiting for a rainy day to start one. Herein some inspiration to get you rolling:

10 Ways to Celebrate National Family History Month

  1. Pull down your photo albums from the shelf and look through them with your family. Make sure to write the names of people, places and dates in all photographs.
  2. Organize your digital photos and print a book through Shutterfly, Blurb or your local print shop.
  3. Write a letter or an email to a family member recalling a special day you shared together. Receiving a thoughtful note, even if just a few lines, is guaranteed to make someone's day, especially if it comes on an ordinary Tuesday.
  4. Take a video on your smartphone of your child, a sibling or parents and upload it to YouTube or Facebook to share.
  5. Sit down to enjoy a leisurely cup of tea with a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent and ask them some questions about their childhood. This can be done over the phone or skype of course, too. Video and audio apps on smartphones are an easy way to record conversations. Or if you have a video camera gathering dust in the closet, break it out! 
  6. Chart your family tree. Here is a nifty fan chart template to print. Ask around to see if any close or distant relatives have gotten a head start with your tracing your family's genealogy. Library branches like mine often offer free classes.
  7. Make a family recipe book. Send out a request for favorite family recipes and make a book, a pretty recipe file box or simply compile them in a word document to share by email.
  8. Document your family heirlooms or favorite possessions. Take photos or write a list and be sure to write descriptions of where and who each treasure came from.
  9. Make a gift of a framed photograph, a collage of letters or a memory box to hold special notes.
  10. Go make a new special memory with the people you love!


  1. Love the photo! Who are they? I think with the Fall weather it is a great time to turn inward to our homes and families and ourselves-your projects sound great!

    1. That little girl in the middle is our maternal grandmother Dolores Foerster - the youngest of 11 children! This photo was taken in 1919!

    2. Excellent question, Mary Ellen - the details are indeed the whole point! Thank you and see updated post with names and date!