A Genealogy Wish List for Spring


By Holly T. Hansen


BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW: This episode features Holly T. Hansen “Miss Holly GenTeacher” who shares how spring celebrations can offer terrific opportunities to dig deeper into your family history.  Listen to the podcast on: BlogTalkRadio.com, Spreaker.com, YouTube.com, Soundcloud.com.

What do you think of when spring is mentioned? Increased mobility, especially for those in climates where the winter weather limits travel. However, doesn’t it also make you think about upcoming celebrations and the potential opportunities they might offer for gathering information about your family?

For example, let’s talk about Easter. Many of us participate in special worship services around this holy day. If we return to a church that is significant to our family’s past, perhaps we would want to investigate its archives. Many churches keep records of communicants, and these provide information that is not always readily available in the outside world. Watch for birth, baptismal, marriage, death, and burial records here.

And then Mother’s Day comes a little later in the spring. Have you ever tried the exercise of listing all your maternal ancestors in a straight line back—mother, grandmother, her mother, and then her mother, on that one maternal line back as far as you can go? For many of us, it is interesting just how quickly that line peters out. But it is also interesting to consider all the surnames that get involved, in contrast to the paternal line which usually remains the same.

Think about your memories of any of these women you knew. Write those memories down. Share them with your family. Ask other family members about their memories too. Ask if anyone knows of a diary or journal kept by one of these amazing women.

And even though the surnames generally remain pretty consistent, write down your memories of your father, grandfather, great-grandfather. Share these with your family as well. Again, ask if there are journals, ledgers, or other writings created by one of your male ancestors as well.

Then, when Memorial Day comes around and you visit the cemeteries associated with your ancestors, those headstones will mean more—not just to you, but to your descendants as well. Just think what a treasure you would have if your great-grandmother had done the same remembering and left something in writing for you to enjoy.

The cemeteries themselves can be a resource for furthering your family history research. If the sexton’s records are available, they can provide a wealth of information. However, even the records kept by the cemetery as to who owns the plots and who is buried on their grounds can be very helpful in figuring out family relationships. Look at the stones for art and other clues about the ancestor.

The lesson kind of remains the same for any season. Remember, write, and share. And then look around for other resources to expand your personal recollections.

With this in mind pull out your spring calendar and make a traveling wish list:

  • Easter – Visit the old church grandma attended, take pictures and look for records.
  • Mother’s Day – Interview Auntie Connie about her memories of Mother.
  • Father’s Day – Interview Dad about his memories of his grandfathers.
  • Memorial Day – Visit the cemeteries where family members are buried and watch for clues in stone and in the sexton records.

Cheers and have a Happy Holly Holiday this spring with your personal genealogy wish list.

Holly T. Hansen aka “Miss Holly GenTeacher,” is the President and Founder of Family History Expos, Inc, and as an author, lecturer, editor, and publisher, has been instrumental in helping thousands understand the principles, strategies, and sources they can use to trace their roots in today’s ever-changing technological environment. She is the mastermind behind more than 50 Family History Expos held across the United States, and is dedicated to helping individuals and families, one-on-one, with their personal research needs. Currently, she is involved creating podcasts, webinars, and video presentations to help people move forward in their family history endeavors from the comforts of home. Learn more at www.FamilyHistoryExpos.com


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