Since 1986, our national Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor family reunion in Western Pennsylvania has tried to re-connect long-lost cousins and celebrate our clan's links to Americana. Says the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, our reunions bring together cousins who have "never met, or even knew existed." Noting that the number of our cousins alive today could be 50,000, Pittsburgh Quarterly says "the reunion could fill Heinz Field." Here are 10 tips that might help you organize your own meaningful reunion, large or small.
Build a mailing list of cousins’ postal or email addresses. Stay in touch during the year. To cover costs, pass the hat and create a small fund. Recruit sponsors or underwriters.
Take a group photograph, close-up enough so that all faces can be recognized. Identify each one by name and send copies to all reunion-goers.
Create an electronic archive. Bring a scanner to copy old family photos, letters and news obituaries. Donate copies to local libraries or genealogy societies where your family lived.
Create a family tree display on large poster board – with room for future additions – and strong enough to absorb knocks and dings over the years.
Bring a video recorder and set aside quiet time to interview family elders about their memories of parents, grandparents, homes, schools, activities, before it’s too late.
Establish a reunion theme that's unique to your family. Honor military veterans, coal miners or quilt-makers. Create a display around the theme and prepare a related handout.
Enlist a guest speaker to help draw attendance. Actors portraying Rosie the Riveter, Josh Gibson and George Westinghouse are available through the Heinz History Center.
Create a Facebook page to display family photos. Ancestry.com offers private webpages that are password-protected. Or build your own with help from a child or grandchild.
Plant a tree, attend a ballgame, adopt a highway cleanup or participate in a special charity event. Tour a coal mine or a museum together.
Promote the mindset among younger members that family comes first and of the importance of heritage and togetherness. Instill a deep interest in the stories of past generations.
To learn more about the possibilities, visit my website, www.minerd.com, which Family Tree Magazine has twice named as one of the top 10 family websites in the nation, and which has drawn more than 1.5 million visitors since its launch in 2000.