Summer has finally arrived and signals the start of the traditional African-American family reunion season. Families all over the United States will be gathering to celebrate family ties and remember the progenitors of their extended family. My maternal family, the Washingtons and Rounds, and my paternal family, the Callins, will be joining the several thousands of families who come together to annually celebrate extended family.
For the family researcher, attending a family reunion is the perfect time to conduct research. With a multiple generations of your family members gathering together, you can make great strides in researching your family history. Most family reunions are 2 -3 days long and you will need a detailed plan of action if you want to maximize your short research time with the family.
Here are some things that you can make part of your research game plan while at the family reunion:
1. Interview the older people of your family.
During family reunions most people, especially elders, are more inclined to share with you what they know about the family or themselves. Create a short list of "Fast Five" questions of information that can assist you in your research. Keep the conversation and questions brief as you will most likely only have a limited time to interview a number of people.
Here are my "Fast Five" I'll be asking during my reunion trip this summer:
1. What is your name?
2. Where were you born?
3. What are your parents names?
4. Where were your parents born?
5. Can you share a family story or memory??
2. If your reunion is held in the ancestral home place, research locally
The great thing about having a family reunion at your family ancestral home place or homestead is that it gives you an opportunity to research in the areas where your family lived. Some places on your list to visit should be the local cemetery, the county courthouse and other places of note relative to your family history ie family church, homes/land etc.
3. You should also ensure that you have a Genealogy Road Tool Kit to document and preserve your research efforts.
Take photos of records you access, your family members and places of note. Record your short interviews with a voice recorder or a video camera. Scan or photograph family photos. Use your laptop/netbook to store and organize your work as your progress.
If you find these tips useful in conducting your family reunion research "Like" The Family Griot on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @familygriot and share your experience!
Happy Ancestor Hunting!
The Family Griot