Spring is in the air, and along with that comes a whole new set of genealogy projects for you to work on. Here are your 10 “must-do” genealogy projects that are perfect to tackle while the weather turns from icy to warm and green.
Clean off Some Headstones
As the snow melts, headstones that were previously inaccessible because of the fluffy white stuff become visible again. A lot of them will need cleaning from the winter weather. Others needed cleaning all along, and you can finally do it now that the weather allows for it. Not only can you get to the headstones again, you can spend some time in the cemetery without freezing. Use warm water and mild soap with a soft cloth to clean headstones, since anything harsher may damage the stone. Especially avoid using wire brushes. You’d be surprised at the writing on the stones a good cleaning will uncover, possibly making the stone legible for the first time in decades. Be sure to rinse off the soap and bring a soft towel to pat dry the stones when you’ve cleaned them.
Put Markers on Some Unmarked Graves
Chances are you have some ancestors whose burial sites you know, but who do not have headstones. Spring is a wonderful time to mark those graves with new stones since the ground is visible again and beginning to thaw to provide a good foundation for the stones. If you’ve been saving throughout the year, you should be able to do one, maybe two stones each spring. Adding stones to known burial locations is a wonderful way to honor your ancestors and to let future generations locate them more easily, so they won’t be forgotten.
Visit the Historical Societies Where Your Ancestors Lived
When the weather becomes suitable for going out on small trips again, it is a perfect time to visit historical societies in nearby towns where your ancestors lived. You never know what you’re going to find at a historical society, as citizens, as well as the city, have been donating items of all sorts to them for decades. Many historical societies close during the harsh winter months up north, but a lot of them will start re-opening when spring officially begins. Go visit them and make some new discoveries for your family tree.
Read a New Book on Research or History
Good genealogists are always increasing their skills and knowledge by reading. A good plan is to read a book a month throughout the year. The book can be about a new genealogical research technique you haven’t tried yet or a book about the history of the area where your ancestors lived. The more you know, the more you can discover, and the more familiar you will become with your ancestors as the real people they were.
Start Research on a New Family Line
Spring is all about new beginnings. Make your own by starting to research a new family line. You don’t have to stop researching the lines you’re already working on but just add a new one. It will be a fun project and add to your overall knowledge of your full family history.
Write a Chapter on Your Family History Book
If you are writing a book on your family’s history for publication or distribution just to the family, writing a chapter a month makes the project much more manageable. You can take the whole month to write the chapter, so you’re ready to start a new chapter the next month. If you finish the book, start writing the first chapter of another book on a different family line. No one says you can only write one book. Write as many as you like, and make sure your ancestors are remembered, while also providing excellent research materials for future genealogists.
Put Flowers or Decorations on the Graves of Your Ancestors
Some burial sites may not have had flowers on them for centuries. Others will have wilted flowers and broken decorations from the snow and ice of winter. Freshen them all up with new things to make them bright and cheerful, and honor your ancestors with your acknowledgment and care at the same time.
Plan a Traditional Family Easter Gathering
If your family celebrates Easter, research how it was celebrated in your family at least a century ago, including customs, food, decorations, and clothing. Then, put on an Easter as close to what they would have celebrated as you are able. Keeping the food and customs as close to the original as possible is the most important parts of creating an authentic traditional Easter for your modern family.
Do Some Genealogy Spring Cleaning
It’s common to collect a lot of useless or duplicate information when you’re doing genealogy research. Don’t let it create clutter in your work and research space. When your space is cluttered, it’s harder for you to concentrate and think clearly, and it doesn’t look good, either. Use this opportunity of new spring beginnings to spring clean your research materials.
Catch Up on Your Genealogy Correspondence
You probably make genealogy contacts online while doing your research. These are usually distant relatives or their spouses, who have information or photos (or both) regarding your family that you wouldn’t have found any other way. Keep in touch with these people, as they might discover new information as they talk to other family members. You should write or email them at least once a year to keep them up to date on your research discoveries, and to ask if they have anything new to share. It keeps you in mind of each other and maintains the relationship genealogy helped you discover.
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!)