|Meerkats have close-knit families.|
Each year since 2000, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has introduced a resolution adopted by the Senate declaring October National Family History Month. It is not official, though, unless the President of the United States issues a proclamation, and he can’t issue a proclamation unless the House and Senate pass a concurrent resolution.
While we’re waiting on the House and the President (did you bring your sleeping bag, snacks, and flashlight?) here are some resources you can use now.
National Park Service – NPS declares “more than 80 million Americans are believed to be actively searching for more information about their ancestors.” The NPS Teaching with Historic Places series offers lesson plans focusing on family heritage, including well-known and lesser-known figures and places in U.S. history.
Minnkota Genealogical Society, Grand Forks, North Dakota – Sixteen suggestions including creating a family cookbook, photo album, and family tree.
About.com – Ten tips including recording family stories, uncovering your family health history, and crafting a heritage gift. Missouri observes November as Family Health History Month.
Get serious about starting your family tree – Onegreatfamily.com and ancestry.com are among fee-based sites. 1000memories.com is a free site that enables you to bring your albums, scrapbooks, and photo-filled shoe boxes out of the closet and into an online shareable space.
Start a family history blog – Several free blog-hosting services are available. Find out more at familysearch.org.
Public libraries – Check with your public, college, or university library for suggestions and materials. Watch a three-minute YouTube video by Mooresville, Indiana Public Library. The Library of Michigan has a day-long Family History Month Workshop October 29 in Lansing.
Regional observances – Your state university, local library, and newspaper are places to search for regional observances. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill series, Documenting the American South, is highlighting “slave narratives that preserve family histories, lineages, and traditions.”
Give family members a blank notebook – Here is a list of fifty-three questions to jog memories.
Ten Steps to Discover Your Roots – Family Tree Magazine has a free webinar you can watch or you can download the presentation as a slide show.
If you would like the President to declare October National Family History Month next year, write to him and to your Representative and Senator. How to write Members of Congress. Contact forms are on their websites, but a handwritten or typed one-page letter is more effective. The President’s address is: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.
What is going on in your city, county, or state to observe Family History Month? How will you participate?
Photo: Meerkats at the Auckland Zoo, New Zealand by Ashleigh Thompson.