12/09/2014 10:19 BST | Updated 12/11/2014 05:59 GMT

Autumn and Genealogy - A Great Match

This is a great time of year for me! I love genealogy and I love autumn. It is a terrific time of year offering some exceptional combinations for those of us who love genealogy.

Autumn and Genealogy - A Great Match

This is a great time of year for me! I love genealogy and I love autumn. It is a terrific time of year offering some exceptional combinations for those of us who love genealogy.

First, autumn is the beginning of some of the most enjoyable family holidays of the year, which offer us genealogy fans some super opportunities to enhance our family trees. There is Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. These are prime times for family gatherings that can offer genealogists stories, photographic opportunities, memory and story sharing, and much more. Often times these holidays are filled with old time family traditions and decorations that also can offer stories and memories of their own.


The weeks of autumn are a beautiful time of year. The weather begins to turn and so do the leaves. Mother Nature puts on a show all her own and we get to witness it in many of our favorite places. With the changing leaves as a backdrop our family photos, pictures of our homes, pets, etc. take on a once-in-a-year look that we can capture for our family trees. Plus there are other spots that autumn's backdrop add a special aspect to enjoy. One of my personal favorites is to visit cemeteries in the autumn. They are often at their most beautiful and the changing and colorful leaves can often add a unique view to those photos we all like to take of our ancestors' final resting places.

When I was young, one of my favorite autumn visits was to our local apple orchard and cider mill. It was always great fun to see the apples on the trees, pick your own favorite, and then spend some time drinking in the unique aroma that is a cider mill. It is also darn hard to beat a glass of freshly made apple cider and has been an enjoyable tradition to pass down from generation to generation.

College campuses can also offer a great setting in autumn. If you are lucky, you might have the chance to spend some time visiting a family member on campus and take in all that is a college campus in the autumn. Homecoming, parades, floats, football games, art exhibits, and so much more while in the autumn it seems like every college campus puts on its best colors for your visit.

There are also some fabulous smells of autumn too. One of my family's favorite is from when we lived in Santa Fe and autumn brought the unique and pungent aroma of roasting chiles. You could smell them out of doors almost everywhere since they were roasting all around town. There was always the distinct aroma of piñon wood burning in the kivas around town too. It added a very special magic to living in The City Different.

Visits to favorite places can be best in the autumn as well. Some of our other favorites are to walk vineyards at this time or perhaps revisiting old neighborhoods to see you old family homes, streets, and parks and get some excellent photos for the family tree.

You can hardly beat autumn for visits to historic locations that hold special significance for your family and genealogy. Perhaps it is going to Washington, D.C. or some other historic city. Another of my personal favorites is to walk Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia during the autumn. Or to visit some of the battlefields of the Civil War, Revolutionary War, or perhaps the War of 1812, Indian Wars, etc. Autumn just makes them all the more special, inviting, usually less crowded, and very special photographic opportunities.


No matter where you go for your genealogy and family history in autumn the sight of the colorful leaves, the sound of the rustle of fallen leaves around your feet as you walk, and the smells that bring back childhood memories such as burning leaves help us get recharged, see our ancestry and genealogy in a unique light and time, and help us ignore the hints that it also holds of the coming of winter's snows.