In the past few months, my wife and I have lost each of our grandfathers, and my grandmother’s better days are behind her. It’s sad enough to lose their voices, their presence, and their unending love and support. But it’s also tough to lose their history.

As our elders die, they take with them the memories and histories of our families. These are histories that span generations and decades, and not only explain who we are and where we came from, but also make up the rich, humorous, and sometimes painful fabric of our lives.

Maybe that’s why so many Americans are turning to websites that help trace their genealogy, or watching shows that showcase the unique and fascinating family histories of celebrities. The bottom line is that to know where we’re going in life, we have to know where we came from. Here are the ways that you can easily make the history of your family come alive for your children in a lasting and meaningful way.

1. Dig Deep

Put on your investigator hat and start researching. Talk to family members about their stories, family anecdotes, and memories, and begin to compile them in one place. Start asking if anyone has old family photos or videos and try to organize them. Also, see if anyone has documents or paperwork, like passport photos or other travel records that create a timeline of your family’s unique history.

2. Make a Family Tree

Once you have compiled some of the information above, sit down with your kids — if they’re old enough — and try to map out a family tree. There are websites that will help you, but you’ll likely have to pay a fee. Hopefully, your children will become invested in the project and want to share in the sleuthing duties to help unravel their lineage.

3. Interview Family Members

If your older family members are willing, sit down with them and interview them like a journalist would. Think through your questions and try to cover as much ground as you can. This will create a first-person, living history moment for everyone in your family to enjoy for years to come. It will also introduce future generations to family members who are gone well before they even arrive. Another idea is to take your older family members back to their old neighborhoods, or other places central to your family’s story and record video of them there.

4. Take Trips

Instead of heading to the beach or to a theme park on your next family vacation, try to plan a trip that includes some of the locations that are central to your family’s story. Make sure to take lots of pictures and video, too.

5. Do Your Homework

Even if you cannot afford to take a physical trip to see where your family is from, you can still get a sense of the area with a detailed Internet search. Go online and research the town or city your family members are from and see if there are images from Google Earth, or images of the city during the time your family members were there. It will probably be eye-opening for you and your kids.

6. Protect Your Records

Make sure your treasured items are protected by making extra copies, making digital files, and safeguarding the items in a dry, climate-controlled place in your home. And it’s always a good idea to put the digital files on a hard drive for safekeeping.

7. Put It All Together

Once you’ve compiled all the documents, photos, videos, and stories, you’ll need to decide how to share it. Do you want to make a scrapbook, or edit a video together so family members can have one for posterity? Whatever you decide, it will no doubt be a meaningful and important collection of what matters most to your family.

Have you researched your family history? What was your process?