Genealogy Road Trip Tip 25: Share your stories

Tip 25: Share your stories. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Among the intangible benefits of a genealogy road trip are the stories that you and your travel partner will return with. Sharing those precious stories is the best gift you can bring back from your journey.

Meaningful family stories are the greatest gifts of all. Spend some time after your genealogy road trip reviewing your notes, photos, documents and recordings — then write down or record the stories that emerge. By: alvanman

The people you met during your trip, the experiences you went through together, and the ancestral discoveries you made — these can become part of your family saga if you share your stories after your return.

How you tell your stories is up to you. Are you more comfortable writing them down? Or would you rather record them for posterity? And who will you share them with?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Expand on your trip report and photos. If you typed up your notes as suggested in Tip 21, you can go back over your report and photos to jog your memory about the stories emerged from your journey. How did you feel to find an ancestor’s grave? What were your impressions of your ancestors’ town or neighborhood? Was there an interesting librarian who helped you out? You’ve collected the facts — now is the time to reflect on what they meant to you by journaling about the experience or recording your impressions.

Review your recordings. Set aside a quiet time to listen to an oral history interview you recorded. What did you learn from the family member or an ancestor’s associate or neighbor? Did new family history information emerge? Were humorous or poignant stories shared during the interview? What did the room look like? What background sounds do you hear? How did you feel before, during and after the interview? These are the ingredients that will make your story come to life.

Study those genealogical documents and historic maps. During a genealogy road trip, there is little time to review the documents, historic maps and other items you and your travel partner discovered. But once you’re back home, spend some time studying what you found. Does the documentation fit with the oral history interview you did? Or with your previous research? How does it feel to see an ancestor’s surname on a map indicating where they lived or owned land? Does this animate a census report in your files?

Write or say what comes naturally. If you have never written or recorded yourself before, you may feel awkward at first — but stick with it and just write or say what comes naturally. This is storytelling, like you might do around the dining table — and your family members will appreciate your efforts to share what you learned about your mutual ancestors.

Share in a way that is comfortable to you. Have you longed to put together a family history book — with stories and photos — to share with future generations? How about creating a digital scrap book to be printed and shared? Would a blog work better for reaching family members who live all over? What about a YouTube video or a family-only Facebook group? Even something as simple as a holiday letter with a few anecdotes about your trip offers a way to begin telling your stories.

Your ancestral discoveries are a precious gift to your contemporaries and to future generations of your family. So find some way to share these family history stories — the way you wish your ancestors had handed down their stories to you.

Now it’s time to put everything away so it’s there for your next genealogy journey. Please stop back for Tip 26: Store your gear.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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