Writing Your Family and Personal History
Why write a family history?
Evaluating our history reminds us of who we are. Evaluating major events in our lives helps us and our posterity become reacquainted with who we are. Take a good look at events in our past; tell those who read the history our strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths can give courage to those who read it; weakness will suggest what needs to be avoided and the consequences. Personal histories can introduce us to future generations, our descendants. We will become real people as we share our life's experiences.
We tell the events in our life the way we saw and felt about them. We can tell our side of life experiences as we saw them. Family history makes us real to future generations. We give them a feeling of family and inclusion in the history of our family’s past. Family traditions can live on, such as traditional celebrations, holidays, and anniversaries, and unique events like camping, vacations, or celebrations of a family historical event.
Getting started by gathering information
Have family discussions family members. There are friends and family members who are carrying family history around in their heads. Make appointments to talk to them. Record the interviews.
Make a commitment to write. Find a specific day and time to write each week perhaps a Sunday afternoon. Find a place to write. A table or desk with space for material, group sheets, pictures, mementos. Sort out the important documents, letters, pictures and memorabilia that will put life into your stories. Collect mementos, pictures, news paper clippings, items that will trigger memories. You may want to keep separate folders for each stage of your life. Decide how you wish to capture what you write. You may want to write it in a note book, dictate it onto a CD, use a computer, or have another person assist you.
Make a time line of your life thus far.
What to write
Start with your birth:
- Where did your family live when you were born?
- Your birth date (and time if known)
- Where were you born (at home or a hospital)?
- Describe the circumstances of that day.
- Grandparent visits.
- Were you blessed when you were given a name?
- Names of brothers and sisters
- What was your place in age of the family?
- Describe memories and events with brothers and sisters.
- What was the name of your grade school?
First day of school
- Do you remember the names of friends that you had at school?
- Baptism and confirmation.
High School and college Years.
- Name of your high school
- First date
- High school clubs that you participated in.
- Favorite music
- Dress and hair styles
- Your first car
- The fads of the day
- College days and social organizations you belonged to.
- Mission experiences
- Military service
- Courtship and marriage
- How and when did you meet your spouse
- Events of your courtship
- Wedding plans
- Wedding day, where were you married and by whom.
- Birth of first child
- Political affiliation
- First house
- Children and their influence in the home
- Challenges of raising children
- Rules of the house
- New family traditions
- Neighbors and friends
- Extended family, in-laws
- Family recipes
- Career history
- Include humorous situations in your life. Future generations will enjoy knowing the light hearted side of your life experiences.
- What activities or hobbies do you enjoy Financial plans that you have made for your retirement years.
- How is your health?
- What society or life style changes have you seen over the years.
- What events affected you life the most?
- What Now!
Include goals for the future that you have set for yourself.
Continue writing. Life is one event, one challenge, and one memorable story after another. You will get to know yourself better by remembering each of those hills and valleys. Decedents will learn from your successes and challenges. Your decedents will be curious about how you viewed the world events in your life. Further readings see: Family Focused by Janice T. Dixon, PhD