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Query:

I don’t know anything about my heritage. My family didn’t inherit anything? nothing. What is a good way to find out about my genealogy and family history?

Heirlines Professional Genealogy Tip:

No one family inherits their whole family history. Family pictures, letters, documents, heirlooms, memories, stories, memorabilia, genealogy and more are passed down generation to generation in bits and pieces. Often, the family history and genealogy that survives the “settling of the will”, ends up stored in boxes in a variety of known relatives’ or lost loved ones’ attics. And down through time, as memories dim, and relationships and treasures are lost or thrown away, new generations must find ways to work together to discover, gather, and learn their lost family history. Holding a family reunion is a sure-fire way to bring such treasured family history out of the boxes and attics of once lost, now-found cousins.

When you hold a family reunion, look for and make contact with all living descendents of your common ancestor, including the lost loved ones. Invite the attendees to bring and share what they know and have about the family. You will be well rewarded for your efforts as the treasures that have been stored in the various homes, are now made available. Encourage scanning and making copies of what is gathered and found so all can have the materials and preserve your family relationships and history.

This does not have to be a full-scale 3 day event, but it can be just a meeting over lunch with a small group of cousins or a mini-family reunion. Either way, using a traditional family reunion or a mini one, are great opportunities to discover the treasures in your cousins’ attics and to share yours with them.

We recently held such a mini-reunion with some of my cousins 2 to 5 generations removed from our common ancestor. In preparation for the 2008 Lars and Sidse Larsen Family Reunion that we held in June of 2008, I sought out all of the descendants from the surviving families of their two sons, Niels and Hans. In order to find living descendants and cousins, I discovered a lot of information about the Porcher and Toyn family ancestry, which is not my lineage but pertains to some of my cousins. When we met at the summer reunion, these previously unknown “lost-loved ones”, expressed an interest in a mini- reunion where we could discuss all of this newly found material. So, after the big reunion, we held a mini-reunion, with just 6 of us. And for 4 hours, we read stories and histories, shared pictures and memories, and became better acquainted. They brought pictures and family history from their attics and their cousins’ that I had never seen before, and went home with my notebook of genealogy and family materials that I had gathered on their family. Though this bridge to the past, we have now opened up the treasures our attics and our hearts to the future of our family. Such are the bounties found in Family History as it is accessed through the attics of our loved ones.