World Family History Day (WFHD) is celebrated around the world by genealogy societies, historical societies, educational institutions, genealogical companies, family history centers and of course individuals around the globe on May 15 each year, which is the same day that the United Nations observes its International Day of Families.

So how are you going to participate in World Family Tree Day? If you’re not sure, we have 15 suggestions for you …

  1. Visit your local genealogy group, historical society, museum or library
    If you haven’t been to your local groups to see what they offer and how they can help (or at least not recently), it really is time to check them out. Look for the bigger state ones as well as the smaller regional ones, as they will all have records available, most of which you won’t find online, so local groups are a valuable place to visit or get in touch with.
  2. Visit a cemetery
    There’s no doubt that genealogists love cemeteries. So in case you needed a reason to go visit one, take a drive and go visit a cemetery or two, it’s World Family History Day, so go visit the relatives! And while you’re there you could photograph some headstones and put them up on Find A Grave or BillionGraves.
  3. Label your family photos
    We have all have come across old photos that are unnamed, and we know how sad and frustrated we get about those. So to save that your descendants from that, label your photos. They will thank you for it.
  4. Scan your old photos and slides
    When did you last look at the slides in your bottom drawer? What about those photo albums you inherited from your dad? Help preserve your photos and slides by scanning them. It not only makes them easier to view, but also easier to share.
  5. Write your memoirs
    I don’t mean you have to sit down and write your whole life story as a giant book, but rather write some memories. There’s plenty of question lists around that you can pick a few from and write your responses. A great suggestion is to use a ring binder, so it’s easy to add to as you go. Remember everything you write will be something that would have otherwise been lost, so you’re doing it for the following generations.
  6. Interview a family member
    Too often we think “I should have asked them about this or that” and by then they have passed away, and it’s too late. So while the current family members are around, take the time to interview them and ask them some questions .. about growing up, about family, about their memories, and so on.
  7. Attend a family or local history talk, seminar or information session
    Whether this is in person, or watching a video or webinar online, talks are a very useful as an educational tool. And there are so many around, and you can keep educating yourself on so every facet of genealogy. YouTube, Family Tree Webinars and FamilySearch all have heaps to watch and learn from.
  8. Do some online indexing
    If you’re spending 15 May at home, no problem. You can just still take part in World Family History Day. Just log on to Trove for some text correcting, or FamilySearch for some indexing. Every little bit helps someone find another family clue.
  9. Do some family tree-ing
    For some getting to do some research done on your tree isn’t a problem, for others it just doesn’t happen. However World Family Tree Day sounds like a great day to make an effort and get a few more names and details added on to your tree.
  10. Help someone with their family history
    Help someone. Whether it is through a Facebook group or mailing list when someone asks a question, or by helping a friend, relative or neighbour get started with their family history. Do it. The genealogy community is full of kind-hearted souls. Be one of them.
  11. Take a DNA test
    DNA is huge part of genealogy these days. Not only will you discover your your family roots lie, but you will also connect with other relatives, many whom you didn’t know existed. You can find more information on DNA tests here.
  12. Filing
    Be honest, you have piles of paperwork and documents either on the floor or desk (or both) don’t you? I do. Let’s face it. Filing is not a fun task. But we do enjoy the efforts of filing, by being able to FIND things easily. So we do need to make an effort to do it now and then. So take an hour or two, or even just 15 minutes and file some of that paperwork. You’ll be surprised by what you find.
  13. Cite those sources
    Sources. Again, not the funest of tasks, but a very important one. You need to know where you got that death date from for your great auntie, not to mention the alternate name for your great grandpa. Trust me you WILL NOT REMEMBER, so you you need to note everything. It does take extra work up front, but it is worth it later when you revisit your research down the track.
  14. Get creative and share your tree
    From family tree photo walls, to wall charts, to quilts, to scrapbooking, to videos, to cakes, to slide nights. There’s plenty of ways to share your family history with others. Here’s a link to some.
  15. Back it up
    When was the last time you backed up your family tree? Or if you have an online one, downloaded a copy of it? If it’s not recent, it’s you’re overdue to do backups. Have backups on your computer, on a flashdrive, and/or and external hard drive, and on the cloud. You put years of work into tracing your tree, you really, REALLY don’t want to lose it, so you can never have too many backups. It does take a little bit of time, but you’ll be grateful if you ever have the need to use that backup.

So there’s just a few ideas for you for World Family History Day. I hope you get to participate in some way or another, and I hope that plenty of local groups and organsations do too.

Follow the hashtag #WFHD on social media, and see how others are spending World Family History Day.

15 May
World Family History Day