Its a new year and we all make resolutions. This year I’m suggesting a resolution that everyone can keep.
Tell your story. Too often while researching a family history, we think “I wish I had asked ______________ about their life.” Many years ago I interviewed my maternal grandmother and a paternal aunt, and yet, I look back now and think I could have been more thorough.
Even though some younger people might not yet be interested, in the future they will be wishing they knew more about their family history and wishing they had asked you.
There are different ways, some very simple, to record your story, thoughts, and memories. In all instances it is easiest to start with a small notebook. When you think of an event from the past, write down a quick note. Use one page for each separate thought so that you can expand on it later. You don’t have to write everything down at this point. You will use this as a jumping off point. Go through photos to jog your memory about people and places in your past. Realize also that not all memories will be pleasant, but that is life. Your descendants will know that also.
Some memories to ponder: your spouse/parents/grandparents/aunts and uncles, childhood memories, school memories, the “old country” from which you came, special holidays, sports or activities you enjoyed, memories of your children when they were young
When you have accumulated several ideas, its time to start recording. Here are some suggestions:
-take your original small notebook and expand on your thoughts. You can leave the notebook as is or you can expand it into a small book. You can also use small photo albums. Put a copy of a photo on one side and write an entry on the facing page. There are several companies through which you can create your unique, personal book.
-use a cassette recorder (some people still have them)
-ask a friend or relative to videotape you as you talk about the different people/events (there are even companies you can hire to record you). You can show a photo and then describe your memory.
Remember, even if you have done your family tree with dates and names, its the memories that add substance. Please also remember to date and name the people in your photos. You might know who they are, but future generations may not.
This project is not something to be done in a day, but don’t put it off. It will be easier to do in small pieces.