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My mom has recently gotten into genealogy. She's not the best with computers, but I would like to encourage her in her new hobby. She's cooperating with some other members of her family (who are more into it) who live in other places. What can I do to show her that I support this newfound interest?

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You could (in no particular order):

  • Find a local (active) genealogy society for her to join, to meet like-minded people to talk to and learn from
  • Facilitate some learning about computers -- if she has a specific reason to learn, she might find it easier -- so a course for IT beginners or some one on one tuition? And if she gets more confident, you could consider subscribing to a suitable on-line source of records for her, or set her up to use Skype or something similar to talk to her relatives that she's co-operating with
  • Help her record interviews with older members of her family, so she can preserve their knowledge and share it with the people she's co-operating with. You could even interview her yourself and record it
  • Organise/facilitate travel to locations of interest
  • Seek out local archives or family history centers where she could access records and get advice
  • Buy her a local history book, perhaps about the place she grew up or where her family came from, or a book on Genealogy for beginners
  • Buy her a subscription to a Genealogy magazine
  • Buy her a Family History chart to display on a wall for a visible record of what she's found out (preferably one that she can make corrections on!)
  • Investigate some of the free genealogy packages out there on her behalf, to see if there's on you think she might get along with. There are so many, and everybody has their favourites, we don't make recommendations on this site but GenSoftReviews is a good starting point to understand what's out there.

You'll note there's a common component to many of these suggestions: they require you to invest some time and effort as well as (possibly) some money. The real biggie would be to get involved yourself in tracing your family history -- what better way to show her that you support her interest!

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My nephew has shown an interest in what I'm doing in genealogy. He asks via email how it is going and what new information I've found. That encourages me to continue. Even my youngest grandson asks how it's going & what I've learned (he's only 11!) & that encourages me.

Also, in addition to ColeValleyGirl's great suggestions:

  • If you have cousins or other family members you are close to you could record stories for your mother - stories bring the names and dates to life.
  • Record some stories of your own childhood - my children's versions are always fascinating to me!
  • Go to a genealogy conference with her
  • Suggest and help arrange a family reunion
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I love all the suggestions so far, and would add the following:

  • If your mother isn't good at computers and you are, join forces! She can gather material from non-online sources, and you can input it into your favorite genealogy software or online tree service for her. Ideally pick something that prints nice trees that she can look at. Along the way you can also show her what can be found online nowadays. (This is probably a good point to give a plug to next weekend's Weekly Chat, which is about how to use big sites like findmypast and Ancestry effectively.)

  • Help her write a little family history “book”. It doesn't have to be that long, but a few pages with the stories of living and dead relatives, complete with scanned photos and sections of trees for those bits of the family. This can be done easily in Word or Apple Pages.

If she isn't good with computers but you think she could get used to an iPad, the Ancestry app is pretty good and probably not too difficult to learn even for computer novices.

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