Do you incorporate family history with your family travels? We do, and it is a blast! One of our favorite activities has been taking tours of the cities where our ancestors lived. Children can relate much better to a family member that lived long ago if they can learn about them on location. To learn that great-grandma went to school when she was a little girl by actually visiting the school and holding a picture of great-grandma as a little girl while you are there… now that makes old history seem very real.
Last year, we prepared for a hometown tour in a unfamiliar city by mapping it out on google maps. We marked every location we knew of from interviewing elderly family members, census records, city directories, and burial records. Then when we got to town, the kids helped us plan a route to take us by several of the locations.
This year we brought the family history timeline even closer by visiting John’s (my husband, my children’s dad) hometown. This is more current family history, but to kids it still seems distant enough; it happened before they were born! Plus, John included a lot of his experiences growing up visiting with his grandparents and great-grandparents, which definitely covers several generations of family history.
My husband took us past the house where he grew up and showed us all the fields (now with many homes on it) where he used to roam as a child. Our six year old son even expressed jealousy that dad got to enjoy such a free-range childhood. Our tour also included schools, the church, dirt paths he rode on his bike, the cabin where he visited his granny and what that was like, the cemetery where he created a directory for his Eagle Scout project, the Dairy Queen where he worked during high school, and he explained what had changed in the town since he lived there.
It was quite encouraging to see how much information the kids soaked up as he was sharing with them. They asked lots of questions and were repeating some of the funnier stories back to each other during our long drive home.
What town could you visit to take your family on a tour through their genealogy?
To learn more about family history travel with children see the “Crossroads for Kids” section of the summer issue of Crossroads magazine published by the Utah Genealogical Association. My tween daughter Rebekah and I contributed the articles for this edition.