If you aren’t aware, this week is the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Genealogists and tech gurus come together to discuss the future of genealogy and the tools available for three glorious days. However, don’t think that you have to be in the crowd at the convention center to enjoy the sessions and benefit from the ideas discussed. Thanks to the power of technology, RootsTech streaming video can bring you there.
Because of this streaming technology, I was able to listen to an amazing keynote address given by three gentleman greatly admired: Dennis Brimhall, Syd Lieberman, and Josh Taylor. They were all engaging, informative, and inspiring.
Here is my take-away: We need to grab the next generation.
People don’t always care about the document that you retrieve but they do care about the stories. Josh Taylor shared stories of his grandmothers, his early research discoveries, and even a circus performing ancestor. Syd Lieberman shared tales of his grandparents and parents, his wife, and their family. Dennis Brimhall reminded us that there are some ancestors out there not represented by the traditional documents a researcher seeks. Instead, we have to seek out the stories. We have to share the stories. We need to use them to engage our children and interest our parents. We need to use the technology available to us, such as two of my favorites – ReelGenie and Saving Memories Forever – to make these stories accessible. We need to become storytellers.
Want one way to help your children and other relatives become interested in your family history? Create a narrative. It’s that simple. Don’t simply list out dates and documents. It’s not about that anymore. Tell the story of their life using the information that you’ve discovered. They weren’t just enumerated in X district in Y town.
“Your great uncle lived in Y town with their family of…” “Grandpa worked as a…” “Every child in this family, despite living so far from town, attended school in the year of…”
Tell the stories that the documents record. And, when you’re done? Look for more stories.
The GenY kids – those you may be or those you may have in your home – need to be engaged. They need an adventure. They need something to spark their interest and grab their attention. Many in the discussion mentioned multiple times that they are a fast-paced, gadget-oriented group.
This conversation came up not only in the keynote session but also in the panel discussion led by Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers and High-Definition Genealogy discussing “The Future of Genealogy.” Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems mentioned getting kids involved in fun applications such as Google Earth. This is a fantastic way to hook their attention. Other fun sites include HistoryPin, What Was Here, and BillionGraves. Pull out the iPad and grab some apps that are history-based so that the kids can see their ancestors in light of the times.
And, here’s where I’m getting real. Do you have a teen who loves the history-based video games (ok, ok, war-based)? Easy. Find an ancestor that fits that time period and turn them loose. Better yet, show them the military history associated with it and then use Google Earth to track and map the unit’s movement through various battles. Reach them where they are. These are the hooks that will establish a love for family history (and history in general) in your children. And, they are rooted in the technology that they love.
There will be more on this subject over the next few weeks. I can feel the itch and the need to talk it through. However, until then, I’ve got several different blog posts that will be helpful if you want something to do with your children right now. For more, check the “Related Posts” footer below this blog.
If you’re looking for a discussion starter within your homeschool or genealogy group, check out my presentation page. I’d love to talk technology with you.
© 2013, Stephanie Pitcher Fishman. All rights reserved.