Genealogy is the study of families and their history, and it plays an important role in helping us understand our place in the world. Professional genealogists can help us understand history. They can even help solve crimes by finding familial connections through forensic means.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Cheap or Inexpensive Gifts for Genealogists
- Holiday or Birthday Gift Ideas for Genealogists
- Emailable or Virtual Gift Ideas for Genealogists
- Practical Gifts for Genealogists
Amateur genealogists can help us learn more about our own family members and their experiences. If you have an amateur genealogist in your life, you know that they provide you some interesting anecdotes about family histories. Want to give back to them with something equally interesting or thoughtful?
Below, we list some great gift ideas for these intrepid historians.
Cheap or Inexpensive Gifts for Genealogists
Genealogy may seem esoteric to people who aren’t familiar with it. But it doesn’t require obscure or expensive materials. You can pick out a thoughtful gift without breaking the bank. Here are some of our suggestions for inexpensive gifts for genealogy buffs:
1. Genealogy books
Genealogists are generally really good about sharing information with other family history aficionadoes.
They understand that knowledge is a good resource to both receive and share. As a result, there are many books written for genealogists of all levels. Check out this list of genealogy books for family historians of all levels. They can help someone get started, or even help them take their passion for genealogy to the next level.
2. Digital recorder
For family historians, genealogical research often starts at home. Older family members like grandparents and great-grandparents are a rich source of information. Not only will they remember prior generations, but they will also often know details that younger family members don’t have.
Our time with these older family members is more limited than we might like to think. As they get older, their memories will begin to fade. Many family historians would love the opportunity to record family stories directly from older loved ones.
Digital recorders can help genealogists figure out how to start other research methodologies. They also help preserve family history for future generations to listen to.
3. Personalized photo collection
When people think of genealogists, they often picture people poring over old newspapers and records. That’s not too far off base.
But it’s only part of the story. For many people, seeing photos of their relatives and ancestors can add more emotional resonance to the genealogy process. Collect photos of as many family members as you can from throughout the years.
4. Novelty coffee mugs
Genealogy may seem like a niche hobby. But it’s popular enough that you can find humorous novelty items for the family historian in your life. Genealogy-themed coffee mugs with funny sayings are fairly popular items.
One such mug reads “I Collect Dead Relatives, and Occasionally a Live Cousin.” Another reads, “I Research Dead Relatives and Irritate Living Ones.” One more states, “Family Genealogist: I Know Which Brance the Nuts Came From." These are great, inexpensive gifts for a historian with humor.
Holiday or Birthday Gift Ideas for Genealogists
Genealogy can be an all-encompassing hobby. Amateur genealogists may have all kinds of supplies on their wish lists. If they don’t, you can still pick out something to make their birthday or any holiday special. Here are some suggestions for special gifts for an amateur genealogist:
5. Memory jar
The digital recorder suggested above is a great tool for people with interviewing skills. But not everyone is adept at pulling stories out of people. A memory jar is a great alternative way to get stories from family members. If your family all gathers together for the holidays, you can present a memory jar like this one to the family historian as a Christmas gift.
Get all your family members who are there to write a family memory on a piece of paper and include it in the jar, along with their contact details. Then, the amateur genealogist can reach out after the holidays to get more information. This is a great way to help your family historian get exposed to new stories they may not have even been aware of.
6. DNA kit
Several companies offer home DNA kits that reveal your family origins. They often go on sale around holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Even if your family historian has done a test through one of these companies, you can pick one up for a company they haven’t tested through yet.
These kits are an especially great resource for someone who is adopted, or who has a family member that was given up for adoption. An increasing number of people are rediscovering long-lost family members through these kits.
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7. Family tree wood slice
If your family historian has put in a lot of work on a family tree, you can help them take it to the next level.
Many artists will take a slice of wood and etch a family tree onto it. Just send them a copy of your family tree, and they’ll put it together for you. It’s a beautiful and special keepsake that will mean a lot to a genealogy buff.
8. Genealogical vacation
People often turn to genealogy out of a deep desire to understand their roots. A family historian may find that parts of your family come from a region no one expected. If they already knew your family’s place of origin, they may have also developed an interest in exploring that area of the world.
Either way, you can surprise them with plane tickets to experience your family’s ancestral home firsthand. This is a pricey gift, but you can always get several family members to chip in.
Emailable or Virtual Gift Ideas for Genealogists
The internet has really revolutionized the way we explore genealogy. Several years ago, genealogy wasn’t readily accessible for amateurs.
You had to go to libraries or archives. You might have even had to find a family member’s grave to learn about when they lived and died. With the internet, you can find tons of information with the click of a mouse.
Here are some virtual gift ideas to help a family historian navigate online resources.
9. Subscriptions to a paid database
There are at least a half dozen subscription genealogy sites on the internet. Through these sites, an amateur genealogist can gain access to digitized research from around the world.
They may also be able to track down information on ancestors that family historians have had little luck finding records on. These paid databases are an invaluable research tool, and a gifted subscription would be an even greater help.
10. Create an online memorial database for family members
Earlier, we talked about using memory jars and digital voice recorders to gather information from family members. But if you’re tech-savvy, you can take this to the next level. Put together an online repository of family lore.
Collect the information from family members and consolidate all the information on one site. Then, teach your family historian how to upload new information. This will be a convenient tool for them to use.
11. Educational courses
Many websites and genealogy databases offer instructional courses for amateur family historians. They can easily be accessed online. There are great introductory courses available for new genealogists. There are also opportunities for family historians to continue their education.
12. Essential forms
Finding information about your ancestors isn’t as simple as doing a Google search. You may have to request records from a variety of sources. If your family historian has been running into some dead-ends, essential forms can give them new avenues to explore.
Here are just a few of the forms you can gather together for them:
- United States Census Extraction Forms
- Vital Records Worksheets
- Family Tree Templates
- Military Service Records
- Immigrant Research Forms
Practical Gifts for Genealogists
Genealogists are, generally speaking, practical people. They research their family history because they want to understand more about themselves and where they come from. These practical gifts can help them in their pursuit of knowledge:
13. Archival supplies
Amateur genealogists often encounter fragile documents and delicate older photographs. If they want to preserve these for years to come, archival supplies can come in handy. Special gloves and archival sleeves can help protect these artifacts for future generations to enjoy.
14. Journals and pens
Family historians take a lot of notes. While a lot of work can be done on the computer, some people prefer a more old-fashioned technique.
15. Digital SLR
Many amateur genealogists like to visit the final resting places of their ancestors. Headstones are a treasure trove of information. Beyond that, it helps them feel connected to their heritage. In the past, people would take grave rubbings to get information off of a tombstone.
However, that can damage grave markers. Instead, gift your family historian with a nice camera to take pictures of the graves of your ancestors.
16. Genealogy magazine subscription
There is a surprisingly large number of genealogy magazines on the market. They are a great way to stay up to date on new ways to research lineage.
A subscription to a genealogical magazine is a gift that keeps on giving all year round.
Gift Ideas for the Genealogist in Your Family
We all have family stories that we love to listen to and share with one another. Over the years though, stories can evolve and details can get muddied or lost. Genealogy allows us to preserve those stories in a more concrete way.
If you’re lucky enough to have an amateur genealogist in the family, you can support their efforts through gifts. Along the way, you may even get bitten by the genealogy bug yourself.
Looking for more ways to preserve your family history? Read our guide on how to write a family history book or essay.