It’s time to start figuring out what genealogy projects you want to tackle for May. Each month holds its own best genealogical practices that you can incorporate into your regular genealogy research. Here are the 10 “must-do” genealogy projects for May. Each of these will make your genealogy research and family history narrative richer and more informative for you and others. Enjoy doing these fun and important genealogical projects.
1. Research How Your Ancestors Celebrated Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day has been celebrated since the early 20th century, which means at least three generations of your family, and maybe more, have celebrated it. Look into your family history by talking to older relatives, looking at old photographs, and even reading old newspaper articles to discover how your own family traditionally celebrated Mother’s Day. Then, include this information in your family tree.
2. Put on a Traditional Mother’s Day Celebration
If your ancestors celebrated Mother’s Day in a significantly different way than you do, put together a traditional celebration. If that involves inviting a lot of relatives over or just keeping it intimate with the immediate family, do that. Also, include traditional foods, decorations, party games, gifts, and other things that your ancestors used in their own Mother’s Day celebrations.
3. Design a Mother’s Day Photo Montage
You can include this in your Mother’s Day celebration, or give it as gifts to all the mothers or women in your family. Gather all the photos of past Mother’s Day celebrations in your family and put them into a montage on your computer, set to music. Choose a song that you believe conveys the message of Mother’s Day the best, and set each photo to appear in the montage for just long enough for them all to make an appearance by the end of the song. You can label the photos and include special effects as optional details if you choose. Everyone in your family is guaranteed to love this tribute to the mothers in your family tree.
4. Research Your Ancestors Who Fought in Wars
With Memorial Day being this month, it is time to celebrate the veterans of wars in your family tree. This includes any ancestor who fought in any war in any century. Since this is an American holiday, you might prefer to focus on those ancestors who fought in American wars, though you can include ancestors who fought in foreign wars as foreign nationals if you choose. Look up their war records and/or information on the wars they fought in and the roles they played and include this information in your family tree notes section.
5. Visit the Graves of Ancestors Who Fought in Wars
Most veteran organizations will go out and put flags on the graves of known war veterans. If you know of an ancestor who fought in a war, but who doesn’t get a flag each year, either let the local organization putting out the flags know about them, or do it yourself. You can also put wreaths or other patriotic (to their times) decorations on their graves. It may only be possible for you to visit local graves in person. However, you can look up other graves on FindAGrave.com and leave a special Memorial Day note for them on that site. Use a patriotic sticker graphic in your note for extra respect and honor.
6. Read a New Genealogy Book
You should always be improving your genealogical skills. Reading books on genealogical research techniques is a good way to do this. Reading one new book on genealogy research each month keeps up your skills and allows you to find new information on your ancestors.
7. Read a New History Book
Learning the history of the times and places your ancestors lived is important to understanding them and their lives. Read one book each month on a time and/or place in which an ancestor lived to improve your knowledge of your forebears.
8. Write a New Chapter on Your Family History Book
If you are planning on publishing your family history, writing one chapter a month will make it more manageable. You’ll be ready to publish before you know it, and it will be easy to do.
9. Collect and Organize Yearbooks
May is when graduation happens, or is approaching, for most schools. Collect all the yearbooks for your family members going as far back in time as you can, and organize them nicely on a shelf, with labels on the spines to indicate who they are for and what year they were published. It makes it easy for relatives to look at the lives of your ancestors in high school.
10. Put Together a Photo Album of Graduation Pictures
Get a small photo album and use it just to put graduation pictures in. Graduation pictures started to become common in the late 1800s, after the Civil War. Collect as many as you can find for your family, going as far back in time as you’re able, and put these in an album, in chronological order, and labeled on the back of the photos and below them on the album pages. It makes a nice tribute to your family’s graduates.