Family History

General

Family Research Guides

There are several guides to family research, but here is a selection of sources to help you get started in this process

Family Reunion Planning

Even in the virtual environment family reunions are important to bring people together and to bridge generations. They are also an opportunity to share about family herstories.

Oral History

#MyStoryOutLoud: Digital Storytelling for LGBTQ Youth of Color

Oral History is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving, and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events.

  • Oral History Association
    • The Oral History Association has served as the principal membership organization for people committed to the value of oral history. OHA engages with policy makers, educators, and others to help foster best practices and encourage support for oral history and oral historians. With an international membership, OHA serves a broad and diverse audience including teachers, students, community historians, archivists, librarians, and filmmakers.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Oral History Initiative
    • We collect and preserve oral histories from iconic elders of African Americana and others who have shaped the culture in significant ways. We also develop oral history projects that support the research and exhibition goals of the Museum.
  • Institute for Oral History
    • Through dynamic, recorded interviews, oral history preserves the stories of individuals who helped create the fabric of history and whose lives, in turn, were shaped by the people, places, events, and ideas of their day. The Institute for Oral History has recorded and preserved oral histories since 1970, earning along the way a strong reputation for multidisciplinary outreach to both academic scholars and community historians by providing professional leadership, educational tools, and research opportunities.
  • StoryCorps
    • StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.
    • We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.
  • HistoryMakers
    • The HistoryMakers Digital Archive is an easy-to-use online database of thousands of African Americans from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. Unlike other primary source resources,  The HistoryMakers Digital Archive provides high-quality video content, fully searchable transcripts, and unique content from individuals whose life stories would have been lost were it not for The HistoryMakers.
  • Remote Oral Histories

Family Photographs

  • Counternarratives: Ida B. Wells Photographs
  • Zun Lee: Zun Lee is an award-winning visual artist, physician and educator. He was born and raised in Germany and has also lived in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Chicago. He currently divides his time between Toronto, ON and Charlotte, NC. Through lens-based storytelling, archival and socially engaged practice, Lee investigates Black everyday life and family spaces as sites of intimacy, belonging and insurgent possibility against cultural displacement and erasure. 
    • Digital Exhibits: 
      • Fade Resistance : is an archive of orphaned Polaroids that Lee has collected since 2012. Buying the photos at yard sales and on eBay, Lee has prevented them from ending up in the waste bin of visual history. “Fade Resistance” reminds us that in those ordinary jovial moments – captured in the photos – our life mattered, and it still matters.
  • Thomas Allen Harris Using Family Photos to Frame American Stories

Preserving Family History

Archival Storage

Physical Storage

  • Gaylord Archival: Vendor that supplies products for preserving documents, photographs, textiles, and exhibits
  • University Products: Vendor that supplies products for preserving documents, photographs, textiles, and exhibits

Digital

  • Preservica Starter: Upload, preserve, organize and share your content and records online – in minutes.
  • Permanent.org: Upload your most important digital materials to your archive and customize the archive profile to tell its story. Create archives for other people and organizations. Then establish connections to share materials between them. Collaborate with your community by adding members to any archive and curate a shared history.

Tips for Preserving Family History

Providing Access to Family History

Once you have collected and preserved the information about an individual and/or generation you want to share with family and others about what you have found. You can do this in a few ways.

  1. Publish a digital or physical book
  2. Create a physical or digital photo album
  3. Turn the images, documents, and textiles into a quilt
  4. Develop a digital exhibit and/or timeline
  5. Create an online digital collection
  6. Create a video/documentary using the audio and video from oral histories and other sources
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