DOCUMENTING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
Research through living history - Interview older relatives and record the process. Write down multiple questions, and listen carefully when they answer. Take notes and jot down follow up questions. Don’t ask too many questions that result in “yes” or “no” - make sure your questions will result in a story or explanation. Once you are finished, transcribe the oral history so it can be read. Save backups of everything, as well as physical copies.
Preserve your kodak moments - Overtime, photos tend to get lost or ruined. With the digital age changing the way we document moments, many of our photos are on our phones. For actual photographs, first is to figure out who is in the photo. If you don’t know, ask around. Scan the photos with your smartphone. There are many great Apps on your phone if you don’t have a scanner at home - Photoscan by Google Photos, Cam Scan, TurboScan, etc. Label the photos with the date and subject, and put photos in collections to help with your organization (i.e. “Italy Trip” or “Colleen’s Wedding”) For digital Photos: Upload them to an online drive platform (iCloud, Google Photos is a great source too) and back them up on external hard drives.
Preserve your documentation - You might have old papers - such as flyers, newspapers, documents, etc. - that you might not know what to do with. Consider going through these and organizing them into storage boxes (acid-free boxes if you have the money) and filling them in a way that you will be able to locate them. Store documents UNFOLDED as creases can harm the paper. If it’s a really important document, like an old marriage certificate, scan it and store it along with your photos.
FILM AND VIDEO
Preserve old footage - This can be tricky, especially if you don’t have the correct technology to preserve your footage. Transferring that footage over to a digital format is the way to go. These following local businesses can assist you with transferring old footage to digital products:
WRITE A BOOK
Create a treasure that can be passed down through generations - Why not turn your long hours of research, preservation, and hard work into a book? Genealogy books and life accounts are precious gifts to your family. They can be enjoyed for generations, and allow your family to have all of their history in one easy spot. There are many websites that can help you format, publish, and print books online.
https://www.ngsgenealogy.org/free-resources/charts/ https://www.ancestry.com (paid subscription required)
https://www.archives.gov/research/genealogy (great resource from the National Archives)
RESEARCH AT THE MUSEUM
Researching, documenting, and preserving history is a crucial step for personal historic preservation. It allows us to appreciate those who paved the way before us, and to fully understand how we came to be today. Diving into your genealogy is a fantastic way to gain a greater understanding of your past and where you and others in your family came from.
Are you planning your family reunion? Our archives have endless documentation of information of the founding Syracuse pioneers and their descendants. View an index (DOC) of family history collections at the museum. Have anymore questions or need assistance? Reach out to the Museum and we will be happy to assist.
Rentmeister Book Collection Catalog
This catalog (PDF) details the rare and historic book collection donated to the museum by the Rentmeister family. The book collection is available to peruse during hours of operation or by appointment.
Rentmeister Reading Room
Need a quiet place to study or do research? Our newly remodeled Rentmeister Reading Room is the perfect spot for you. Fully equipped with Wifi and a television for watching our oral histories, you are able to utilize this space free of charge. Please call or email to schedule your spot.