Everyone has a song to sing in life. Every family leaves a legacy.
My father is a professional photographer and my grandfather was a prestigious professor of geology. I am also directly related to Old King Cole (yes the “merry old soul” – who was actually Constantine’s grandfather), as well as the French emperor Charlemagne. These people from my family have left remarkable legacies, but what if no one remembered them? How long would they last? How many remarkable people have lived that we know nothing about?
Learning about our family history not only helps to prolong our family’s legacy, but it can also inspire us to be our best and to sing the song we came to sing. Whenever I learn about my ancestors, I want to be a better person. They left their mark and it inspires me to leave mine.
As we set goals for the new year, let’s put family history on the list. Some may think it is a daunting task to begin, but it is easier than you think. Here are five things you can do right now:
- Write in your Journal! – How easy family history would be if everyone kept a personal journal. If the only resolution you keep this year is to keep a personal journal, it will be worth it. Not only will this give you and your family a record of your life, but there are many benefits of journal writing. Among other things, it can help you process your emotions, reduce stress, and give you a place to keep track of your goals.
- Use FamilySearch.org – This is a free resource to build your family tree. It is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Its records, resources and services make learning about family history much easier. If you did nothing other than get familiar with this site, it would be well worth it. And it is a free service! There are other paid services (such as ancesty.com) that are great as well.
- Help Others by Indexing Names – There are thousands of names of people in handwritten lists. FamilySearch.org makes it easy for anyone in the world to find their ancestors and connect their family tree, but the only way they can do that is if they have the names digitized. This is a massive effort, and you can help, one batch at a time. You can download a free app/program to digitize scanned images of handwritten names on old documents. This can help many others to complete their family lines. Millions have been indexed already and millions still need to be indexed. Find out more here (https://familysearch.org/volunteer/indexing).
- Digitize Valuable Images – A picture truly can tell so much about a person. Scanning images will ensure that they last much longer as a digital copy. Read more here (https://thephotorestorationcenter.com/how-to-scan-your-photos/) for some tips on digitizing your precious images.
- Map Out a Cemetery with your Smart Phone – Now this one is cool. Anyone who has a smart phone can do this. Download the free app from billiongraves.com (find the links at the bottom of the page) and go to a local cemetery and start taking pictures of graves! This is an amazing project. Crowd-sourcing can now accomplish something that would have taken millions of hours to do and oodles of dollars to fund. It could be a fun family activity, individual activity (not at night) or even a date!
These are just a few of the many things you can do.
What legacy will you leave? What song will you sing in life? Don’t leave your song unsung.
Start your own family history today and keep your legacy alive!
Andy Proctor is a guest blogger on thephotorestorationcenter.com.