- Study the life of an ancestor who lived in the time period you are studying, for instance a Mayflower ancestor, a Civil War soldier, a pioneer, or any ancestor who lived in that time period. Even if they were not famous and you don’t know a lot about their story, knowing when and where they lived and connecting them with the picture of history at that time will help you connect with history at a deeper level.
- Have the kids talk to their older relatives. Let them have conversations about historical events and what it was like to live back then. Read/listen to their memoirs and journals if they are deceased. Hear it in their own words. For instance, my grandmother wrote down a story about when she was a child, she and her siblings would take the cat out hunting for rabbits for the family dinner when their dad was unemployed. Stories like this really helped me connect with and understand the Great Depression.
- Look for stories (called “memories”) about your family on FamilySearch. New content is being added all the time. (See below under Character for more information.)
Where did your ancestors live? Familysearch tools that put your ancestors on a map:
- Rootsmapper (https://www.familysearch.org/apps/product/rootsmapper/web) for desktop computers (how to use: https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/visualize-family-heritage-rootsmapper/)
- Map Your Ancestors Family Tree smartphone app (https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/whats-map-ancestors/)
Explore Google maps, look closer at where your ancestors lived:
- How to use streetview: https://support.google.com/maps/answer/3093484?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
- How to use aerial view: https://www.wikihow.com/Get-Aerial-View-on-Google-Maps
- Search Google Images for photos of the countryside, the towns, and famous nearby landmarks
Look for historical photos of locations your ancestors lived, and even of your own house and town where you live:
- Your local library, or local library of the location
- USGS Photographic Collection: https://library.usgs.gov/photo/#/
- Library of Congress Historical Photos, maps, and manuscripts: https://www.loc.gov/collections/
- Pivot smartphone app overlays your camera view with a historical photo. Augmented reality experience: http://www.pivottheworld.com/
- Learn the stories of your ancestors, both the heroic ones and the sad ones. Let the stories become part of your normal family dialog. Let your children learn from the tragedies and triumphs of their ancestors.
Where to find stories:
- FamilySearch Memories – go to any “Profile Page” for an individual in your family tree and click on the “memories” tab. Here you can find and upload photos, stories, and documents. Here is an in-depth tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvI5wXFgNEE
- Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database: https://history.lds.org/article/mormon-pioneer-overland-travels-how-to-use?lang=eng
- Digital resources from the Church History Library: https://history.lds.org/article/find-your-family-in-church-history?lang=eng
- Interview grandparents, distant cousins, and other relatives
- Devoting some time every Sunday to discovering more about your ancestors will help you be prepared to share these stories with your children. Have them help you discover the stories as well!