Too often, we don't make this a priority until the people who could tell our family's heritage are long passed away. Names are lost, places forgotten, and stories are left untold. I had planned to do a family heritage project with my oldest son for years. In September, I decided this project would no longer be on the bottom of my to-do list. It became a top priority when I made it our first family project this school year.
A family heritage project lets you and your children work together to preserve your family's heritage, history, and stories. It combines family trees, biographies of relatives, photos, treasured letters, memoirs, and other materials that make your family history come alive.
I had my oldest son use the questions below to interview each of his grandparents. You can also gather treasured memories from aunts, uncles, and longtime family friends. My son recorded their responses, summarized them in paragraph form, and typed up the summaries. He asked them to send several photographs, ranging from their childhood to the present. It is important for children to see photographs of older relatives when they were younger, so they can relate to their life stories better.
Here are some questions that we used to learn more about our relatives:
- What is your full name? And your maiden name (if applicable)?
- Were you named after anyone special?
- Where and when were you born?
- What are the names of your brothers and sisters? Who is the oldest and youngest?
- What were your hobbies as a child? Your favorite games?
- Describe your childhood home and your hometown.
- What is your favorite childhood memory?
- Who influenced you the most?
- Did your family have any special traditions growing up?
- What was your biggest dream/goal when you were a child? Did it come true?
- What were your favorite and your most challenging subjects in school?
- What was your first job?
- What other occupations have you had? Did you have any special schooling/training for them?
- Did you serve in the military? What were you trained to do? What do you remember most about your service?
- Are there some special family heirlooms that have been handed down to you?
- Where and how did you meet your spouse?
- When and where did you get married? How old were each of you?
- Where was your honeymoon?
- Tell me a little bit about your life together.
- What is your favorite movie? What is your favorite song?
- Is there a period in history that stands out to you more than others?
- What age did you accept Christ as your Savior?
- What is your favorite Bible verse?
- What words of advice can you give me?
I gathered the summaries, photographs, letters, and other memorabilia and inserted them in an album. I purchased a beautiful, ready-made family scrapbook, but if you enjoy scrapbooking, let your creativity flow and encourage your children to help.
This project was so rewarding. It brought back a flood of memories from my childhood with my grandparents and parents. There were many priceless stories that have been shared with my children recently, and I learned several interesting facts about my family that I did not know before this project.
I only wish I had done this sooner. It was difficult documenting information about my grandparents who have all passed away. They would've had so much more to share with my children and future generations.
I hope this project will bring you and your family closer together. This album may become a precious family treasure that will be handed down for many generations.