A while back, I began scanning old family photographs. I thought it would be nice to post them on Facebook for the younger generations to see. Questions soon arose as to who was who, when and where. My parents, aunts and uncles helped to answer some of these questions, but my grandparents, since passed on, could not fill in the gaps. This prompted me to imagine the future generations of our family and what they might wonder about our present day family.
What questions would they be unable to answer?
Today, there are several websites and applications designed to help document family history and build family trees. These include the popular ancestry.com, and several apps on Facebook named “Family Tree”. There is even a reality tv show on NBC entitled Who do you think you are?, which tracks various celebrities on the search for answers about their own family history. Documenting family history is certainly trendy.
These websites and apps may be convenient ways of documenting family history right now, but they may not always hold our interest… or especially the interest of future generations. Really, will you pass down your ancestry.com account information to your children or to your children’s children? Probably not. Somewhere along the way, these things get lost in the shuffle of “things to do”.
Not only that, but many of these family tree websites and apps are very impersonal. They simply graph out a few boxes with a tiny photo for each person connected by straight lines. A very cold, calculated looking family tree, indeed. They are more like digital representations of DNA, than family keepsakes. Who wants to look at that?
So what would help to preserve and entice others to continue to remember (and look at) your family tree? Well, as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican artist of the 1930′s, knew this well when she painted My Grandparents, My Parents and I in 1936. And well over 75 years later, we can still imagine Frida and her family living and working in the blue house where she grew up. They are real to us and will never be forgotten.
An illustrated family tree is the perfect way to inspire your family’s interest in their history. Not only is it perfect for hanging on a wall or putting in an album, but it also captures the imagination of younger generations. It’s expressive likenesses and engaging colors of the illustrated faces and places encourage those questions “who?” “where?” and “when?”. Perhaps an illustrated family tree will not only answer these questions, but the answers will be remembered for generations to come…
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