1978
Happy (179th) Birthday, Elizabeth!
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“Happy (179th) Birthday, Elizabeth!” Ensign, Apr. 1978, 61

Happy (179th) Birthday, Elizabeth!

To get your family interested in genealogy, you may want to give special attention to ancestors’ birthdays! Get a calendar that has several lines for writing on each date. Go through your book of remembrance and record the names of your direct ancestors on the days that they were born and also the years in which they were born. (Use the female’s maiden surname instead of her married name, since she was given that name at birth!)

As soon as the calendar is ready, explain to the children that for the next year they will commemorate the birthdays of their ancestors in order to become “better acquainted” with them. As a family you might pick a spot in the house where the birthdays will be posted. The night before an ancestor’s birthday, make a simple construction-paper sign proclaiming the event. A typical sign might read:

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY

  • Elizabeth Barnfield

  • Born 1799

Children will not always know the name and will ask about the ancestor. Find the ancestor on a pedigree chart and figure out the relationship the children have with the birthday name. If other facts are known about the ancestor, now is the time to talk about them! Our children really look forward to the posting of birthdays on our cupboard door.

To share your family’s newfound enthusiasm for genealogy with your friends and neighbors, invite them to a special genealogy family home evening—on a night other than Monday. Our family made invitations that looked like books of remembrance, noting the details of time and place on the inside. We asked all those attending to come dressed as an ancestor (complete with a name tag stating who they were and when they were born and when they died). If possible, they were to be prepared to tell a little about the person they were representing.

On the appointed night, we posted a sign at our front door saying, “Welcome to the Past,” and sixty guests were greeted by our son, who was dressed as Roger Sherman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of our ancestors. Our home was lit with candles and kerosene lamps, and the scene was set for an evening of learning about genealogy geared for all, even the very young guests.

The variety and fame of our ancestral guests was great, and even the young children realized that they were doing something special that evening. Most of the parents reported great excitement in their homes as decisions were made as to who each would be. One of our daughters faced a dilemma: she had two favorite ancestors and “didn’t want the other one to feel bad if she wasn’t chosen to attend the family home evening”! Deanna J. Hoyt, Laramie, Wyoming