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Writing Your Personal History
You initial knee jerk reaction is why? If you’re young, I can understand. Another question might be, who would want to read it? Right now, that’s probably true:) But wait a few years…..and your children will ask questions. Writing your personal history might not be important now, but it could be in the future. Let’s talk about why.
More people in the world than any other time are working on their Genealogy. Some reasons are:
- they want to learn about their family
- they want to know what nationality they are
- they were adopted and want to know who they are
- they want to know who’s in the photos they have
- some it’s just curiosity
- others it’s genetics, forensics or they are history buffs
I know many of us have aging parents and sometimes it’s already too late. Dementia or Alzheimer’s robs them of their memories and stories from the past. Recently I’ve watched my brother in law begin to wade through the boxes and boxes he inherited from his late mother. When he sat down with her before she passed away she had already forgotten who a lot of the people were in the albums she had carefully assembled over the years.
Longing for Information
I’ve been involved with family history for a number of years and am enjoying discovering my ancestors. What I’ve noticed are the gaps in the information. It’s easier to find family names, birth dates and those types of records than ever before through the Family Search and Ancestry sites. It’s been said a picture tells a thousand words… and it could if there was anything written down (even on the back).
I loved my grandmother dearly but she passed away early. My Dad lived far away and when we did see him we never talked about the past. As I visited I’d ask him but except for a few quick stories, he never had time nor was he interested.
I long to know more about this dear woman who lived a remarkable life. Except for a few stories from here and there we don’t know very much. There’s so much to learn about the 37 years they spent together from courting to death. In the photo above, I really know nothing about my Grandfather’s life as a child living on the prairie in a “soddy”. We need to write, even some stories about events and special times are better than none.
How to Start
There’s a few ways you can start that are so simple. It doesn’t require expensive programs, a great scanner or even a computer. Write and take pictures. There are even apps for our phones that we can scan photos with so just ask to see photos and scan them!
A few years ago, our women’s group at church gave us all a simple composition book, a little scrapbook paper on the cover and on the inside cover, a simple list of questions that could jog your memory of life events. It’s a really simple way to start. So many times we think it has to be in chronological order and we have to go event by event but we don’t! Just the fact that you’re writing will bring all sorts of memories to the surface. You might frown, chuckle or even laugh out loud as you roll that little movie in your head. It can be a few minutes a day or you might have time to spend a little more. Just start!
Let’s get going!
I’m going to start you off with a quick tutorial of making a cute book. I know, I’m a scrapbooker and creative junkie. Play along would you?
- How to make a simple book that you can give to yourself or others.
Here’s some thumbnail photos of the process of making these really easy books:
Most of the supplies were found at the dollar store. I used mod podge for the first book and a glue stick for the second two. It’s fun to use stickers and washi tape to decorate as well. Easy and quick. I think the second and third ones took about 20 minutes each. They would be a terrific gift for Mother’s and Father’s day this year.
- Here’s my free printable of 50 Life History Questions that was compiled that will help jog your memory. You can print one off and glue it into the front cover.
- Amazon even has books that you can buy, already full of questions with pages to answer them. Here, here and here are good places to start. My son got the Grandmother’s journal for me after the birth of their first child and it’s been a great start for me.
- Here’s a free printable (courtesy of Family Search) to help you gather some data on previous generations. Of course these things are online but our parents/grandparents may not be as tech savvy and you can fill in the blanks as you ask them questions.
- Here’s some links to Family Search (which is free) and Ancestry.com. If you really want to have some fun, Salt Lake City, Utah has the largest family history library in the world where you can do research with volunteers there to help. There are also family history centers set up in Church Buildings all around the world (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) also with volunteers to help with your search. There are also specialists that staff the phones through family search if you have any questions or problems. They’ll walk you through any difficulties you may have.
- If you want to try something else, do a DNA test! My sister did one and we were surprised by what it showed.
Whether you have posterity you want to know more about or you’re interested in writing your personal story, take a few minutes to download my 50 Life History Questions and the Family Search Chart and start your journey. Who knows where it will lead?
Want to remember this? Post Writing your Personal History to your favorite Pinterest board.