Tips To Preserve Family History For Future Generations

tips to preserve family history for future generations

Do you wish you knew more about a loved one who’s passed away? Do you feel like there are gaps in your family’s history? Unfortunately, while genealogy platforms unearth amazing facts from the past, they don’t compare with photos and personal stories about times gone by. 

7 Tips To Preserve Family History, Photos & Memories

Here are seven tips to learn all you can from family elders about your lineage and history and to preserve those memories for future generations.

Host a recorded interview

One of the most straightforward ways to learn more about your family’s history and elders’ memories is to host an “Interview” and record it. Digital recording apps do a fantastic job for you, providing a record that can be stored in the cloud for the entire family to access. Schedule recording sessions for all of the elders in your family, as well as with any of the aunts, uncles, and cousins who are natural “memory keepers.” 

You don’t need anything fancy or complicated for this type of recording. Examples of digital recording software include:

  • Recorder
  • Easy Voice Recorder
  • Voice Recorder & Audio Editor
  • Audio Recorder
  • Rev Audio & Voice Recorder

The simple act of getting loved ones’ voices on record is an amazing gift unto itself. It allows others to “travel back in time” or for young or future grandchildren to meet and feel connections with elders they don’t remember or never met.

Preserve family history by asking the right questions

You’ll be surprised how naturally these “interviews” and story collections occur once you get people started. The key is to schedule the interview at the right time of day and have snacks, tea/drinks, and other comforts at hand, so there’s no need to rush. One memory typically leads to another, so the stories may keep coming.

Visit 100 Family History Interview Questions… for ideas and inspiration.  

Have the family photo albums at hand

Get out all of the family photo albums you have, and ask siblings or aunts/uncles to dig theirs out as well. The more visual stimulation your loved one has, the more likely they will remember stories they may not have told otherwise. Don’t write off anyone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. You’ll be amazed at how much they can remember about their early childhood on a good day and with the right visual stimulation.

In fact, you may find this session, which is a type of reminiscence therapy used to support those with dementia, may lift your loved one’s spirits more than anything else.

Digitally scan or store family photos

All it takes is a single flood, fire, or moisture issues and mold to destroy family photo albums beyond repair. Plus, since albums can’t be identically recreated, most family photos are held by a single person rather than equitably shared across siblings, children, and grandchildren. 

As long as you have the photo albums out:

  • Identify and label individuals, relative time, location, and any fun tidbits
  • Take digital photos or use a high-quality scanner to preserve them all in a single cloud location
  • Consider scanning whole pages so “replica albums” can be assembled if that is a desire

Depending on the number of albums and photos, this may be a multi-session experience, which is a great way to keep seniors socially engaged weekly or monthly. You may also want to explore scrapbooking apps designed to help with creative image capturing and displays.

Create an extensive family tree

Whether you have an artist in the family or you prefer to use designated software, the information you glean through interviews and photo identification sessions can be used to round out the Family Tree. Invest in platforms like or to fill in the gaps. 

There are also numerous platforms that take names and relevant information and add them to template family trees, many of which stretch back as far as six or more generations. The resulting family trees make fabulous gifts for the holidays or birthdays and should be a standing “artwork” in any family home.

Assemble a family cookbook

Food is an incredibly sensory stimulator, and cooking and making family favorites together is a wonderful way to bond with elderly family members. As long as you’re in the memory gathering mode, reach out to elders and extended family members and request family favorites. 

Some people may even have recipe boxes with recipe cards handwritten by their ancestors. Take photos of those to preserve them, and assemble all of the recipes digitally as well as in print for everyone to enjoy.

List and mark family heirlooms and treasures

Now is the time to name, list, and mark/record your family heirlooms and treasures. Go through your loved one’s home and start asking questions about the furniture, art, china, and other collectibles you recognize from childhood. If it seems appropriate, you can use a #2 pencil to mark items with who they belonged to, approximate date/era, etc. 

You can also use labels attached with string if that feels more appropriate. We also recommend listing them all on a document that can be stored online. If your loved ones don’t have a formal will or trust in place, this is a good time to mark who s/he’d like to be passed on to whom in the family so that there’s no tension or debate down the road.

Visit the page on Taking Care of Your Family Heirlooms for more tips, especially if your family has a wealth of genuine antiques in the collections. 

Bonus Tip: Schedule a family reunion

Now that things are opening back up, and digital platforms are familiar to all, maybe it’s time to plan a family reunion. Let everyone know you’re working to preserve your family’s memories for future generations and have all who are interested support the cause. Collectively, the memories and stories will unfold naturally, which is a great way for the archivists to round out the information you’ve already collected. 

This is also a good time to share photos that have no names or information to the group, where chances are higher memories will be sparked.

Love the idea but struggle to find the time? Consider using a companion caregiver to help. In addition to supporting aging loved ones to remain in their homes, our caregivers run errands, prepare meals, play games, take seniors on social outings, and they’re happy to help comb through photo albums and help preserve your family’s memories during their wellness checkups and routine visits. Contact HomeAide Home Care to learn more.

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