Are you looking for some productive genealogy projects to do for April? As the first full month of spring, April offers some interesting and unique genealogy opportunities that just don’t fit in as well during other months of the year. If you want to stay on top of things in your genealogy research, these are the projects that should definitely be on your “to do” list this month. Enjoy them.
1. Spring Clean Your Genealogy
This is a perfect time to go through all of the printed genealogy information in your files and binders and clean it up. Put things in their proper places if they have been stacking up for a while. Get rid of information you don’t need anymore. Alphabetize items and arrange them by date from oldest to newest. You can even categorize documents in this way. Doing this will make it much easier for you to find what you need when you need it, and reduce genealogical clutter.
2. Sweep Your Family Tree
It’s not just your physical genealogical information that needs cleaning this time of year. This is also a perfect time to prep your digital family tree for work for the year ahead. Go through the lines you are actively working on and make sure every piece of information has a credible source attached to it. If there is no source, find one or more. Make sure your family tree makes sense and all generations have a proven connection to one another. Delete inaccurate or disproved information. Edit notes in your family tree for grammar and spelling, and add new details that you may have discovered but not written down yet. Add photos of any new ancestors you’ve discovered to your digital family tree to paint a more complete picture of your family history.
3. Make Donations
You may have some family heirlooms, or other important genealogical artifacts you’ve discovered during your research that have a local or regional importance. If you want to make sure those things are always well cared for and available to other researchers and the general public, this is a perfect time of year to donate them to local historical societies, archives, libraries, and museums. Doing this is a much more secure way of ensuring the survival of the artifact for future generations than handing them down in your family, unless you have a relative you are sure is as interested in family history as you.
4. Have a Traditional Spring Picnic
Picnics became really popular outdoor pastimes in the 1800’s. Research what types of foods and activities your ancestors in your part of the country would have had at a 19th century picnic. Then, recreate it and enjoy an old-fashioned picnic with your family, while honoring the traditions of your ancestors at the same time. If the place where your ancestors would have had picnics is still available for that kind of use, then have it there. Otherwise, choose your own favorite place to enjoy the springtime outdoors.
5. Read a New Genealogy Book
It’s always a good idea to keep up on learning new genealogy research techniques and sources for finding records. One of the ways you can do this is by reading books on genealogy research. There are a lot of them, so you can easily read a new book each month, and keep your learning on point. Your genealogy research will benefit from this and you will be glad you did it. Soon, it will develop into a good genealogical habit.
6. Read a New Book on Local or Regional History
Just like keeping up on genealogical research methods and sources makes you a better researcher, so does learning about the places your ancestors lived. Read a book on the local or regional history of your town, or the towns in which your ancestors lived. It will give you a better idea as to what their lives were like at the time they lived there. You may even find a mention or two of them in the book you read, and learn things about them that you never knew. These tidbits make excellent and important additions to your genealogy research.
7. Research Graduation Traditions of Your Ancestors
Spring is generally the time when public schools and colleges have their graduation ceremonies. Around this time, kids everywhere are starting to get ready for graduation, and it was the same for your ancestors as far back as the mid-1800’s, when public education was first becoming compulsory across the nation. Add a bit of interesting detail to your family history by researching the graduation traditions of your ancestors. You may even find details on their actual graduation ceremonies in old newspapers and yearbooks (you can find old yearbook records in local archives and historical societies, and on Ancestry.com).
8. Write Another Chapter in Your Family History Book
If you are writing a book on your family history, make it more manageable by doing one chapter a month. If you write one chapter a month, the project will seem much more doable. If you’ve finished your book, take this month to submit it for publication, or self-publish it and learn to market it. Or, you can start a new family history book on a different family line. Just go ahead and write the first chapter.
9. Research the History of Your House or Your Family’s Traditional Homestead
The history of the house you live in, or that your family owned for generations (and maybe still does) is interesting. There are people and companies that specialize in doing the “genealogy” of houses. But you can do it yourself. Research it using old newspapers, property and land records, and photos. You will discover so much about how your ancestors lived in that house in generations past, and can add the information to your family history narrative to enrich it.
10. Search eBay for Items Pertaining to Your Family History
You’re not the only one doing spring cleaning this time of year. Other people are doing it, too, and this may mean an excellent opportunity to gather new family heirlooms and photos by browsing eBay. Who knows what distant relatives out there may be selling the exact things you want to add to your genealogy and family tree? Search eBay by your last name (or the last name of the family line you’re researching), or by last name and location to get more exact results. You may find some incredible things. Many genealogists use eBay as a research source, and so should you.
Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)