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[Debbie is a member of my Homespun list and also listowner of Heirlooms-L. She posted the following message on her list and gave permission for me to share. - shirley]

With the summer here, I imagine a few of you must be attending or planning a family reunion. This article was posted in the Ancestry Weekly Digest last week and I thought some of the info might be fun. If you have any other good reunion tips, perhaps you'd like to share them... - Debbie


by Juliana S. Smith

Family reunions are great opportunities for gathering information from family members that you may not see often, and for updating current data. Below are some ideas that may help you collect information and stir interest in your shared heritage in ways that are fun and interesting for everyone.

~ Prior planning can be difficult with families that are spread out over long distances. A Web site ( can help bridge that distance and facilitate prior planning. The message boards are useful in planning what everyone will bring, and afterwards, the site is a great place to post pictures and reminiscences and will help you to stay in touch. Also, post your GEDCOM file on the site and ask site members for help filling in missing data. This information can be used for other projects that will be mentioned later.

~ Send out blank pedigree charts and see how far people can go back. You might want to think about sending them with the reunion invitation so family members can reference resources that they may have at home to fill them in. When you get the charts back, combine them on a big chart so everyone can see how they are related. You might want to use a tablecloth or bed sheet that can be hung up or laid out for all to see.

~ Make a map that traces the migrations of your ancestors and family members. If possible, cite hometowns in the old country to show family members exactly where your common ancestors were from. Travel brochures or a search on the Internet might even turn up pictures of their hometown.

~ Make up questionnaires for everyone to fill out. Include vital information like birth dates and places, marriage information, information about their parents, and medical history. Also ask for personal information like memorable events in their lifetime, traditions from their youth, places that they have lived or visited, hobbies, and any other information that will be of interest to future family historians.

~ Put together handouts with your family information in them. Organize the information in different ways. You can include charts, timelines, copies of old photos, news clippings, copies of original documents, or transcribed family stories--anything that you think may stir interest and revive old memories.

~ Kids love to put on shows. Provide them with costumes and props and let them act out scenes from your ancestors' lives--the crossing to America, overland treks in covered wagons, how Grandma and Grandpa met, or any other interesting family story. This will preserve these memories in their minds and actors and audience will have a good time. If there are no "actors" in the family, storytellers can narrate the family story for those interested.

~ Make up games from your family's history. You can create your family's version of "Trivial Pursuit," where participants have to answer questions about your family to win pieces of the pie. Make a collage with copies of old photos and baby pictures and award a prize to the person who correctly identifies the most people. Ancestral Charades can have players pantomiming an ancestor's life as the audience tries to guess the identity of the ancestor.

While you're at your reunion, don't get so caught up in the past that you neglect the present. Take pictures and make memories for the kids to treasure, so that they can reminisce and tell stories about this reunion at future reunions.

For more help planning your reunion, visit the following Web sites for help from beginning to end:


"Tips for a Successful Family Reunion"
by George G. Morgan, "Along Those Lines..." (18 Sept 1998)

"Notes on a Successful Family Reunion Trip"
by George G. Morgan, "Along Those Lines..." (30 Oct 1998)

"Tips for a Successful Interview"
by George Thurston
(Ancestry magazine, Jan/Feb 1998, Vol. 16, No. 1)

"Family Celebrations:
What do they have to do with Genealogy?"

by Linda Rogers
(Ancestry magazine, Nov/Dec 1996, Vol. 14, No. 6)


Better Homes & Gardens' Guide
to Planning a Successful Family Reunion

"Using the Internet to Plan a Family Reunion"

Reunions Magazine

The Reunion Network

Family Reunion List