With the dog days of summer and the month of July approaching, you may be thinking of some genealogy projects to occupy you during the long, hot days coming up. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do in July that are outside of the average genealogical research you do, and these things should keep you occupied and entertained while you wait for the weather to cool off and school to start again. If you are looking for some fun and creative genealogical projects for July, here they are.
1. Add a Chapter to Your Family History Book
If you are writing a family history book, the best way to approach it is to write a chapter a month. This way, the project does not seem too large to you, and it makes it easier to stay motivated to complete it. Take the whole month to work on your next chapter in your book, and you will have something to be proud of when August rolls around and the project is finished. If you have already finished a family history book, this is the perfect time to start working on the first chapter of another. There are endless different branches of your family to explore.
2. Read a New Book on Genealogy
You should always keep your research skills up to date. New genealogical techniques are invented all the time thanks to technology. Read a book about a new technique you may not have heard about or used in the past. It will open up new avenues for you to explore your family history, and may even help you break down some genealogical brick walls. Reading a book a month on genealogy is an excellent way to keep your skills sharp and up to date.
3. Read a Book on History
Keeping your historical knowledge on point is one way you can make yourself a better genealogist. You can do this by reading a new book on history every month. It can be local history, regional history, national history, or world history. The important thing is that it pertains to your ancestors and their lives in some way, even in a very broad sense. The more you know about the history of the places and times in which your ancestors lived, the more you can understand what their lives were like, and what they may have been like as people.
4. Research the History of the Fourth of July in the United States
People have been celebrating the fourth of July in the United States since the Declaration of Independence was written in 1776. Benjamin Franklin even predicted that the day the document was “officially” adopted (it was actually adopted via signatures from the Continental Congress delegates over a period of time in the summer of 1776, but the 4th was adopted as the official day it went into effect) would be celebrated by future generations with fireworks and other wild displays, and with great enthusiasm and happiness. He was correct. Researching the way this holiday as traditionally celebrated and comparing it to how it is celebrated today will give you and your children and grandchildren a sense of connection to those Revolutionary times people, many of whom are your ancestors. And, you will find, the celebrations haven’t changed much over the centuries.
5. Do a Genealogical Good Deed
You don’t always have to work on just your own family tree. There are queries online on many message boards where people have posted asking for help with genealogical brick walls. If you subscribe to any genealogy societies that send out magazines or other publications, you will find these queries in there, too. Do a good deed for a fellow genealogist this month by choosing a brick wall query to solve, and send the information, with proof, to the one who inquired. You would want someone to do the same thing for you. Doing this sends out genealogical good will to everyone, and it may come back to you when you need assistance with a brick wall of your own. Plus, you’ll just feel good by doing this for a stranger.
6. Post Your Own Query
You probably have genealogical questions of your own. Get them answered, or at least give them a chance to get answered, by making your own online or in-publication query. You will be surprised at how many responses you may get, some of which may even be helpful. You may even get really lucky and get a photo of an ancestor you’ve never seen. You never know what genealogical goodies will come your way until you ask. There are branches of your family you’ve never met who have the information you need. You stand a good chance of connecting with them, especially online.
7. Get Your DNA Tested
If you have not gotten your DNA tested, this is an excellent time to do it. You should have your results ready by the fall (and maybe sooner), just in time for you to start putting the results into action in your research.
8. Arrange a Family Reunion
Summer is the perfect time to have a family reunion when everyone is off of school. If you start planning and sending invitations out now, then you should be able to have the reunion in August, before people go back to school and are less available. Make sure you ask people to bring any genealogy research they have done so you can share it with each other, as well as photos of ancestors they can share with everyone, too. Be sure to bring your own, as well.
9. Join a Local Genealogical or Historical Society
There are probably genealogy and/or history societies in your area. As a genealogist, you should belong to at least one of them, and more than one if you have the time to attend the meetings. You will meet other genealogists researching local families, and learn more about the history of your town or city.
10. Donate Some Items to a Local Genealogical or Historical Society
The best way to make sure your research and artifacts are preserved for future generations is to donate them to a place that will protect them. Look at what you have that you don’t need to have in your house for research or personal reasons, and donate them so future generations can enjoy them.