Ready to start preserving the family stories that have been handed down for generations? This is an important task that can seem incredibly overwhelming. You probably have tons of stories that you want to make a record of, and realize that other family members will have more of them. Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to get started preserving family memories.
Pick one to start with.
Stop thinking about “all those stories”. Focus on one at a time. Break that gigantic task into a bunch of smaller pieces. It will suddenly seem much easier to begin.
Choose a story from your own childhood. It can help to aim for a particular event. Write about a memorable birthday party, or Christmas, or one small portion of a family vacation. Assign part of the time you would normally use for genealogy research to this story.
Your computer should have at least one type of program that lets you type words into it. Use it! It is also perfectly acceptable to go “old school” and write in a paper journal with a nice pen.
Type things as you remember them. Don’t worry about making mistakes. You can go back and edit the story after you get the words out of your head and into text. Avoid going off on tangents. You can get around to other family stories after you are done with this first one.
Try an audio recording.
What about family stories that you don’t know? One simple way to preserve them is to make an audio recording. Speak with a family member who you think would be interested in sharing a family memory with you. Explain that you want to record the story as it is told to you.
You can use your smartphone to make an audio or video recording of the family story your relative wants to share. Find a nice, quiet, place to do it. You can get a cleaner recording if you take steps to cut down on some of the background noises. That audio, or video, of your relative, telling his or her story in their own words, is priceless.
An audio recording is helpful if your plan is to combine a bunch of family stories into a book. You could carefully transcribe the audio into text. Don’t worry so much about catching every last word. Did she say “an” or “and”? That doesn’t matter as much as the main concept your relative was trying to talk about.
How to put it all together.
Eventually, you will have compiled a whole lot of family stories. The next step (after editing, of course) is to figure out a good way to put them all together. There are several ways to do this.
You could put together all the stories that one specific family member told to you. Put them in chronological order. Or, you could collect stories that focus on one topic. Everyone has a story about Christmas? Those stories can all go together, even if they were from different decades. We have many scrapbooking ideas to help preserve family photos. Incorporate these stories into your scrapbooking.
Image by Keith Williamson on Flickr.< Return To Blog