The Three Secrets of Interesting Others in Family History

The Three Secrets of Interesting Others in Family History

by Dale Lee

For those already bitten with the Family History bug life is simple for the teacher or leader, but what happens when you are asked to try to expose others to Family History? The task of trying to interest non-participants can seem to be daunting.
If you wait for people to come to you as a Family History resource, you'll probably be waiting for a very long time.

The first secret in getting others interested is to get the support of the leaders of the group or organization. We all have priorities we need to deal with: work, children's school functions, city leagues, etc. The leaders of your religious or civic organization must be involved and set Family History higher on their priority list or other priorities tend to take precedence.

The second secret in interesting others to get involved in Family History is to SET A GOAL! This secret is critical to success. If a goal is set for the whole organization, such as finding one ancestor or completing a 4 generation pedigree chart in a specific amount of time, the whole organization can work together to achieve the goal. Not only will people help each other in achieving the goal, they also become excited about sharing their successes. The Family History consultant will become a means to an end, not an end in itself. Tasks will not be completed, or even attempted, until they are accepted, written and agreed upon.

The third secret in interesting people in Family History is to hit them with as many positive impressions as you can, from as many different directions as you can. The following is a list of the types of things you may want to try. But remember, the main thing is not to be worried about specific tasks, just do as many different things as you can manage. The more positive impressions the people are exposed to, the easier it is to break the ice with them and get them more heavily involved. Remember, each person is at a different stage in their lives. Some have the time and interest at this point and some will later on. Make the impression a good one this time, so later they will want to get involved.

1) Ads (announcements) in your organization's bulletin or newsletter.

2) Publish a special edition of the bulletin or newsletter featuring Family History as the main topic.

3) Hold a Family History Fun Night. Have a broad smorgasbord of Family topics to interest all ages of the families involved.

a) Bean bag throw - topic, score one for your grandparent

b) Magnetic Fishing - topic, fishing for ancestors

c) Scrapbooking table - have experts in scrapbooks demonstrate how to put one together,

d) Have a contest to see who can make the best custom coat of arms, and reward the winner with a special treat,

e) Bring in a computer and show how to use a particular Family History software product, such as PAF, Ancestors Family Tree Maker, etc.

f) Bring in some old articles of clothing, pictures, spinning wheels, etc. for display purposes,

g) Create some crossword puzzles or circle-the-word puzzles and see who can get the most words in a given period of time (see for ideas,

h) Make small flags of many different nations to put on tables as center pieces,

i) Make it a Pot-luck, have everyone bring in some food native to the country their ancestors came from (tacos, bread pudding, calamares, escargo, etc.)

4) Bring in outside experts. Have professional genealogists or someone that has spent a lot of time in genealogy come and make presentations to the group. Many genealogists are willing to take time out to help others even without pay.

5) Set aside a night of the week to dedicate to helping the members of your group seeking your help. If they know you will always be available, it'll be easier to schedule them in. Also be available to schedule for other times of the week in case they can't schedule their time for that night of the week.

6) Take them on a tour of the nearest Family History library. Family History libraries are popping up all over the world.

7) Get the kids involved. Religious organizations can dedicate a couple of lessons in Sunday School for each of the age groups. Scouts can have a Family History Merit Badge counselor help the group earn the Family History Merit badge (or as one of my sons say, the "tree watching merit badge"). Etc.

These are just some of the activities a Family History leader can involve the group in, but they can make a large difference in the success the group enjoys. Remember, you need to make Family History enjoyable as well as enlightening.

Copyright © 2002, Dale Lee

About the Author:

Dale Lee is a computer consultant who has been involved in Genealogy for over 12 years. For information on how to publish your own Family History or book manuscript, visit


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