Ideas to Study Your Family History

How much of your family history do you know? Would you like to know more of your roots and where you have come from? Make this a family activity and learn together.

Vintage postcards and photos in the background with the text Family History overlaid
Old Letters on Shutterstock

Ways to Spend Family History Month Together 

Create a visual family tree – either digitally or on paper. I remember as a kid visiting a great aunt who had a huge family tree on many papers that she spread out over the floor in her living room. Seeing that many names and all my family history in one place was almost overwhelming, but very exciting. My husband and I did something on a much smaller scale when we planned his family reunion – going through the families and keeping everything up to date. How far back can you go? Can you do both sides of your family? Use ancestry websites and resources as you can. FamilySearch has a great program that you can use to print out a very colourful fan chart back several generations and frame.


Go through old photos. Don’t let the oldest generation die without asking who is in the pictures, where they were taken, and listening to the memories they invoke. Life was so different when our grandparents were children, and seeing small black and white photographs of life then  helps the younger generation see for themselves the changes.

Interview the oldest person in your family. Ask them about their family – about their grandparents, if they were from a different country, if they can tell you any unique stories or facts about any family members, what their favourite childhood memories are.

Map out the family path. Did your family come from another country? Where in that country did they live before moving here? Follow their journeys, and then find all the places they lived here before settling where you live today.


Visit cemeteries. If you know where family members are buried, visit their memorials. Take rubbings of their tombstones. See if you can find the oldest one. Did they have any neat things on their epitaphs? If your ancestors aren’t buried near you, check out the website – where you can see or request tombstones from other graveyards. You can even help other people by taking pictures of requested cemeteries near you.

Study your family’s country of origin. Do some in-depth research on the country or area your family came from – what is it like? What kind of jobs would they have had? How is that place different than where you live now? Why did they leave? Look at pictures and tourism materials – would it be the kind of place you think would be neat to visit?

Pick one ancestor and do a project/display about their lives. Include photographs, maps, a timeline, relevant facts, who they married, their children, and any other neat things you learn.


My Family History Pack

Get started with your ancestry adventures with this Family History Pack! This pack includes the pages you need to research and interview your close and extended family members. Print out the sets that you need – for example, you will probably want to print out two copies of the Grandmother and Grandfather sheets, depending on how many are available to interview – one for each side of the family.

There’s an extra “More Family” page to use for anyone in the family – great grandparents, aunts, uncles, ancestors from the past, etc. Try to fill in the family tree.

If your family comes from another country, there’s a page for that too.

And, for those kids who are adopted – I haven’t forgotten you. I’m an adoptee myself and I know how conflicting the idea of family history can be. There’s a page for your special adopted kid, too!


Lisa Marie Fletcher
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