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Five Genealogy Things You Can Do in October

Thanks to guest blogger, Lisa Alzo, for this great article.

October is National Family History Month* making it the perfect time to focus on your genealogy research. If you are looking for some fun things to do, below are five suggestions.

1. Plan Activities for Family Gatherings. Before you know it October will be over and the holiday season will be upon us. During Family History Month, you can start to plan activities for your family gatherings. This could be scheduling time to interview your relatives, or deciding on some genealogy games and activities—in particular, those that will get the younger generation involved. Find ideas to help start the conversations or encourage participation in the book Zap The Grandma Gap: Connect to your family by connecting them with their family history ($16.95) by Janet Hovorka. There is also an accompanying Zap The Grandma Gap: Power Up Workbook ($14.95). In addition, check out the Zap The Grandma Gap website for free book excerpts, charts, and other goodies.


2. Start a Family History Writing Project. There is no better time to begin documenting the lives of your ancestors than Family History Month. But remember, you don't have to write it all at once. Break your writing tasks into small, manageable pieces. Start with one ancestor, or one family story, then move on to the next one. Keep writing until you have a series of profiles or stories that you can then edit into a book or eBook to share with your relatives. For family history writing tips, you can view several Legacy webinars, including “Ready, Set, Write: Share Your Family’s Story,” and “Ten Ways to Jumpstart Your Family History Narrative,” or pick up a copy of the Legacy Family Tree QuickGuide on Writing Your Family History. In addition, consider using a writing and project management tool like Scrivener ($40 and $45 30-day non-continuous trial available) to help with the writing process. You can learn how to get started by watching this video, or getting a copy of my “Scrivener for Genealogists QuickSheet” ($8.95 + s/h). Click here to order a copy of the Mac version, or click here to order a copy of the Windows version.

3. Catch up on Genealogy TV. During October you can watch new episodes of the third season of Finding Your Roots (check PBS to find your local station or to watch previous episodes). You can also “binge watch” Season 1 of Genealogy Roadshow (also PBS), or back seasons of “Who Do You Think You Are?” (on TLC). Schedule a family night and watch the shows with your children or grandchildren or invite over other relatives.

4. Dig Deeper with Immersion Genealogy. Genealogy is so much more than collecting names, dates, and places. So why not use family history month to practice some “immersion genealogy”? Immersion Genealogy is a term I coined to define the process of discovering where and how our ancestors lived, worked, and worshipped, and experiencing first-hand those customs and traditions they passed down through the generations. You can visit a place your ancestor lived, take a tour of a military battlefield or Ellis Island, attend an ethnic festival, or cook a special food from a favorite family recipe.


5. Learn Something New. Why not use the month of October to expand your genealogy knowledge, or learn about a new record group or research technique? There are some great webinars coming up during October with Legacy Family Tree Webinars, including:

  • October 1 - The Fair Court: Records of Chancery Courts (Judy Russell)
  • October 3 - Overcoming Destroyed or Missing Records (Karen Clifford)
  • October 8 - Welcome to FamilySearch Indexing! (Devin Ashby)
  • October 15 - Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestor (Thomas MacEntee)
  • October 22 - Tracking Migration Using the Draper Manuscripts (Mary Hill)

Remember, the live webinars are free. Click this link to register for multiple webinars at once:
And, with a FamilyTreeWebinars membership ($49.95 annually), you can access more than 275 Hours of previously recorded webinar content, and 760 pages Of instructor handouts.

These are just a few suggestions for easy activities you can do during National Family History Month. Do one, or all of them, or be creative and find your own ways to celebrate your family and pay tribute to your ancestors.

[*In 2003 the United States Senate officially recognized October as National Family History Month, a time “to encourage family history research, education, and the sharing of knowledge.” The bill, [S.RES.175] was sponsored by Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah. To read more, click here].

Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer, and has been tracking her ancestors for 23 years. She is a frequent presenter for the Legacy Family Tree Webinars series and can be contacted via


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