Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Great ideas from SCGS--Secrets and Scoundrels

Sometimes the synergy when you get a bunch of genealogists together brings up great new ideas that you hadn't thought of.  That's why I love genealogy conferences so much.  A couple of weeks ago we got to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Conference where they put on a great event. 

I came across a few brilliant ideas for getting youth involved in family history from some equally brilliant people and they agreed that I could share them with you here. 

First, Elyse Doerflinger told me what got her involved in genealogy.  I love Elyse because she is so passionate about family history.  Her YouTube channel has some great ideas.   You can see her work at Elyse's Genealogy Blog

Elyse said that the best way to get youth involved in family history is to tell them that there is a family secret and that you won't tell them what it is.  Brilliant!  She says that is what happened to her and she had to research her family's past to find out what the secret was.  I know that works with lots of teenagers--tell them they can't do something and that's exactly what they will do. 

Then I had a great conversation with Kim Cotton.  She writes about family history at  She is an important part of the California genealogy scene and serves on the board of directors for the California Genealogical Society. 

We talked again about Kim's idea we discussed at RootsTech.  She has found great traction with her nephews by telling them about the scandals and scoundrels in the family history.  She thinks she may have connected back to Pancho Villa.  She said every time she sees them, they want to hear more about what she has been researching now.  It's all in how you tell the story, and if you know Kim, she can tell a good story. 

Elyse and Michael Melendez were in the back of my lecture on genealogy societies.  As we were answering questions at the end, someone asked about youth and societies.  When I answered the question and asserted that youth today need the connections that family history brings more than ever because they are so "disconnected" on social media all the time, I was happy when they both agreed.  I really think the upcoming generation is reaching for real live connections more than any generation ever has because social networking has so disconnected them from reality.

And finally, there was a lady in my demo about the books who made a great suggestion about antique quilts.  I told the group about my grandmother's quilt that I inherited and how that felt like a bullet proof vest to me.  A lady raised her hand (I'm sorry I didn't catch her name) and suggested that I create a fabric transfer of a picture of my grandmother, and another of the story of the quilt and baste them onto the back of the quilt.  Brilliant again!  That way future generations will understand the importance of the quilt and where it came from.  It is always good to keep an artifact and the story as connected as possible going into the next generations.  This is a great way to make sure the quilt is treasured in generations to come. 

So there you go.  Lots of great ideas.  If you have one, I'd love to hear it and be able to share it here with others who are trying to strengthen their families.  Email me at janet<at>

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