Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pay It Forward -- Create Your Own Family History Documents (October 1, 2014) : October is Family History Month

Today is October 1st and so it is the start of the annual month-long recognition of Family History  here in the U.S. The month of recognition in October was first passed by Congress in 2001 based on a resolution introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. As stated by Sen. Hatch,  "By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family."

Back in September 2009, David A. Fryxell wrote a piece for Family Tree Magazine (FTM) titled "Trace YourFamily Tree on Your Lunch Hour." The piece was essentially 14 projects one could do during a lunch hour to advance one's genealogy. This October FTM suggests revisiting Mr. Fryxell's list for quick ways to celebrate Family History Month.

As mentioned in last week's Saturday Serendipity post here at The Prism, I would like to add my own suggestion for a project to celebrate Family History Month -- a 15th project idea if you will. The idea is to "pay it forward" to your descendants by tacking in a slightly different direction during this next month. Instead of spending time on discovery of past family history, make some time to sit down and create and preserve some family history for your descendants.  The idea is explained in this edited excerpt from last week's Saturday Serendipity . . .

Don't just discover your family history -- create it! . . .  [T]his coming week begins Family History       Month, which comes around every October. In what may well be some shameless self-promotion, I would like to suggest you read my post of October 3, 2013 "Family History -- Memorializing Your PersonalExperience of Big Events" and then resolve to take the time during October to write down some piece of history you experienced so your personal observations and emotions surrounding the event can be preserved for your descendants. You can see my most recent such effort here where I posted my admittedly somewhat lengthy personal experience of 9-11 as someone who was at the Washington Navy Yard on the day of the attacks.

Everyone has a story to tell of how a big event that descendants will read about as history was a real-time experience for us.  The events need not be terrible ones like 9-11; the Kennedy assassination; the devastation of hurricane Katrina; or the family loss as a result of any number of western wild fires.  A story to write and preserve for your descendants could be a very positive experience such as where you were and what you felt when you saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon; your time at the Woodstock rock festival; completion of a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail; attending an Olympics; or personally meeting a famous person.  You can make your project a story about anything that a descendant 100 years from now can read and maybe take to school for show-and-tell in history or social studies class to demonstrate what an ancestor thought of a big event at the time it actually happened.  

If you take on the challenge during this month, please post your writing on your blog (if you have one) and then send me notice of your project posting with a link. At the end of the month I will do a post here at The Prism with a listing of all the projects that were accomplished and with the link you provide. In this way others can see in one place the various ways in which family history was created to pay it forward.  Perhaps other readers will get ideas and motivation to create their own family history projects during the coming year.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Family History Month logo obtained from
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


  1. What a great idea John! We really do need to make sure we record our own stories for our descendants. Thanks for this challenge!

    1. Thank you for your comment Jana! I look forward to seeing your post of created history for your descendants! ;-)

    2. Here's what I wrote about 9/11 ~

  2. John,

    I want to let you know that your wonderful blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!