A recently married couple–both in their late 20s from Florida–are visiting us on the California Central Coast this fourth of July weekend. Amid trips to Hearst Castle and the beaches and wineries, we have talked about their roots. They are old enough to know the outlines of family stories, but still too young to appreciate how much they will want this information in 20-30 years.
When grandparents and parents leave us, family stories evaporate. These stories exist in no online database, library, courthouse, or archives anywhere. I explained to our visitors, “The Internet becons, but you should start with your parents and grandparents. Valuable details of their lives and origins can disappear tomorrow. At the same time, online databases will only get bigger and better.”
This is obvious advice to experienced family historicians, but not to young people who cannot remember life without the Internet. Their default button for learning more about anything usually involves a Google search and networking with Facebook friends.
The first thing? Not the Internet. Instead, save the family stories. Interview your parents and grandparents. You will never regret having the interview notes or perhaps even a DVD. Are you looking for your first genealogy project? This is it.