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Five Genealogy Things to Do This Summer

Thanks to guest blogger Lisa Alzo for this great article.

Summer is officially here (in the Northern Hemisphere the summer solstice officially arrived June 21 at 6:51 A.M. EDT.), and I don't know about you but I couldn’t be more happy. After the long winter we had in New York, I am grateful for fresh air, sunshine, and being able to get out and go for a long walk every morning. But the new season also gets me excited about genealogy—specifically about tasks that I can enjoy either sitting on my deck with a glass of iced tea, or if I feel adventurous, during an in-town, or out-of-town excursion. Looking for some ways to make your genealogy life sizzle this summer? Here are five suggestions.

1. Make Some Memories.

Summer is the time for vacations and reunions. If you are packing up the car or getting on a plane for some rest and relaxation time with family or friends, why not include a little genealogy along the way? If you are near New York City, check out Ellis Island, where the immigrant experience comes alive. On the West Coast, there’s Angel Island, or visit other historic landmarks, such as Gettysburg, or Monticello.


[Ellis Island Wall of Honor John and Veronica Straka Figlar; Photo by Lisa A. Alzo]

Even if you can’t get away, check your local area for museums, or walking tours of historic places. (One of my personal favorites is the Women’s Rights National Historical Park located in Seneca Falls, New York, (and less than an hour away from where I live). Perhaps you have plans to attend a formal family gathering. If so, remember to take plenty of photos, and use your smartphone or tablet to interview your relatives (for tips, watch the Legacy Webinar on “Captured For All Time: Recording Family Voices to Preserve and Pass Down” by Marian Pierre-Louis). Don’t have a reunion booked? It’s not too early to start planning one for next year. Find tips at Reunions Magazine. You can also organize a virtual reunion with far-flung family members using technology such as Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts

Opting for the Stay-cation? Incorporate some genealogy/family history into a Family Game Night with board games such as Life Stories, and The Game of Genealogy ($29.95 + $6.00 s/h USD), or online activities such as Genealogy Game Night (hosted by DearMyrtle), or the free Family House game by BrightSolid (part of the DC Thompson Group) you can download from iTunes (click here) to play on your iPhone/iPad, or play on Facebook.

2. Sort, Scan, and Save.

One of my major projects this summer is to de-clutter and to get to grips with my massive family history archive. I have an entire room filled with boxes and containers of photographs, assorted documents, and family heirlooms. I am following the excellent advice provided in the book, How to Archive Family Keepsakes, written by my friend and colleague, Denise Levenick (aka, The Family Curator) to better store and preserve all of the wonderful family treasures I have inherited.


[Photo by Lisa A. Alzo]

3. Become a Graveyard Rabbit.

A great project for summer is to go out and photograph/document gravesites in your local cemetery. Projects such as Billion Graves, and Find A Grave make it easy with mobile apps and this is great activity to get the younger family members involved. Don’t forget to sign up for the Legacy Webinar “Find A Grave - The World's Largest Cemetery Database” with Russ Worthington, so you can learn how to use and contribute to the site.

4. Go to Texas!

No really, you need to…so you can attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference August 27-30, 2014 in San Antonio. But HURRY! The Early Bird Discount for the 2014 Conference Ends July 1st! Get a sneak peek of what’s in store with this video. If you can’t make it to FGS, you can always start making your holiday wish list for registration fees to 2015 events such as the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), January 12-16 (some tracks have sold out, but seats remain in several excellent courses), the RootsTech/FGS joint conference also in Salt Lake City February 11–14, or the National Genealogical Society, May 13-16 in St. Charles, Missouri.

5. Attend School by the Pool.

Grab your laptop or tablet, find your favorite lounge chair and learn while you soak up some sun (or enjoy the shade). Take advantage of these fabulous Legacy Family Tree Webinars being offered in July and August (watch them live for free), or become a paid subscriber for unlimited access to these as well as archived webinars (now contains 253 hours and 673 pages of instructor handouts).

  • Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - Thinking About Becoming a Board-certified Genealogist? with Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL
  • Friday, July 11, 2014 - Legacy Family Tree - Virtual User's Group Meeting with Legacy Family Tree Panel
  • Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - When Freedom Came - Documenting the Family's Freedom Story with Angela Walton-Raji
  • Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - Researching Your Illinois Ancestors with Thomas MacEntee
  • Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - Researching Your Tennessee Ancestors – with J. Mark Lowe
  • Friday, August 8, 2014 - Research Recharge - Turning Old Clues into New Leads with Lisa A. Alzo
  • Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - Researching Your Italian Ancestors with Ruth Merriman

Click here to register for any or all of the above webinars.

Bonus Activity

Don’t forget to tune in for the 5th Season of Who Do You Think You Are? The popular series returns on July 23, 2014 on the TLC (check your local listings for more details).

Wishing you a super summer filled with genealogical goodness!

Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer, and has been tracking her ancestors for 25 years. She has presented 10 Legacy Family Tree Webinars, can be contacted via


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Can hardly wait for the Researching Your Illinois Ancestors! Thomas - help me with my Livingston and McLean County family!

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