Time to Start Using the Senses in Family History.

Time to Start Using the Senses in Family History.

First of all, no – I didn’t misspell it, I meant to say senses, not census! I am talking about using all your senses to share your family history with those you love. Now is the time to think of creative ways to share as there is no better time than at the holidays.
We all have family stories, history and heritage that we want to share with those we love. But for some reason, we lose them when we start talking records and methodology…go figure! You’ll know if you are guilty of this if those closest to you eyes start to glaze over when you mention your latest find or take off at a dead sprint for the hills.
To reach a younger generation (or all those older ones we need to coax down from the hills), we need to rethink how to attract them to their ancestor’s stories. There are so many ways to make family history more appealing to everyone.
In order to compete with the many things that are vying for our attention, we have got to step up our game. Here are some ideas that you can use.
For the Hands:
How about playing a game and learning about the dearly departed with Ancestor Trading Cards! Don’t these look great? Katrina at Catch the Window blog shows how to make them!
trading cards1   Fanned cards
For the Mouth:
Thanksgiving is approaching. What a great time to slip some family heritage in! Traditional family foods paired with some strategically placed pictures in an artful display to peak a little interest never hurt anybody.
family history 1 family history 2
For the Eyes:
Here are some clever ways to share heirlooms, maps, copies of documents tied with a ribbon and put out to display and hopefully start a story.

Jar with documents, letters tied w/ ribbons
Remake a globe with your family tree or have one made for you on Etsy.

Make Memory Jars to capture keepsakes
suesan -02
Favorite post about using family history in your decor

Kerry from ClueWagon blog wrote a post about how she uses maps in her home décor. I show other ways in this post for gift ideas for Christmas that you can check out too for more ideas.
For the Ears:
The internet is full of sites dedicated to music from other era. Music has a way of reaching us. I attended my mother-in-laws funeral who was from Kentucky hills of Appalachia. The mournful singing was eerily reminiscent of bagpipe music. Later, I recalled that these people were decedents of early Scottish immigrants and the music told a story about who they were and where they came from. Use music to tell your family’s story, I wrote about music in my family’s lives in this early post called Genealogy, The Musical.
For the Nose:
Smell is one of the strongest senses in helping to bring back memories. Whenever I smell Jergens lotion, I am instantly transported back to my grandmother Mertice’s house after her funeral. Smells can be comforting and nostalgic. What are smells you want your home to be associated with? What did your childhood smell like?
Well, I hope you have all come to your senses – no more census talk to the uninitiated. Hook in with the stories, the sights, smells, tastes of their heritage and then slowly reel them in! Would love to hear what “bait” you are using?


  1. Thanks for all these great ideas. The jars are especially interesting. Helen Smith shared her suggestions in Christmas is Coming.

  2. Such a creative post and great examples. Your photos are super. Gee, thanks.

  3. I love posts like these, full of ideas for sharing our ancestors. I just need to DO something about it now! Great post.

  4. Thank you! I too am inspired by creative ways to share my love of family, heritage and open the path to share stories. Holidays are a great time to start!

  5. I loved this post. You have made some very thoughful suggestions as to how to share the family history. Much better than watching folks doze off as they listen to me talk!!

  6. Love this post! I am already envisioning the tablescape featuring my ancestors.

  7. Such fabulous ideas for enticing interest in family history!

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