Write About Yourself

If you have some extra time this summer, a genealogical project you should seriously consider starting is writing some key, important or meaningful moments in your own life. I know as a family historian you are always looking to uncover as much information on ancestors, both direct blood lines as well as collateral relatives. However, who would be best to document your achievements, disappointments, adventures, lifestyle, etc. than yourself?

It is like when you locate a journal, letters, or diary by an ancestor, you feel you have discovered a mother-load of information, so personal and directly from the person you are researching. You have their thoughts, accomplishments, wishes, regrets and sorrows all presented to you. The only thing better is when you have an opportunity to interview a living relative, where you ask the questions directly.

When gathering information such as dates, places and names on your lineage you have found you wanted to know more about each individual.  Questions arise as to why a person left their homeland in Europe to resettle in a new land or why they pursued a certain occupation such as a seamstress. You wanted to know their full story because their actions would eventually have an impact on your own life.

The same is true for you, the researcher.  You need to take the time to write your own story, no matter whether you are 29 years old or 89 years old, you have a story already that needs to be recorded.  It is not needed just for future generations, but really for family members now; your cousins, aunts, nephews and uncles who just may not know the whole story of your life to date.

I did my first personal life writings nearly twenty years ago when I sat down over a period of several months whenever I had spare time to reconstruct my childhood years. A little bit at a time was done, with the addition of photos, which helped formulate the events as I wrote them out. The story included about my parents, my siblings, where we had lived, my school years, but more important my recollections of events in the family and our community. There was no consulting with my mother or other family members because I looked at it as my own thoughts and impressions of people and events.

When finished I felt I had a good overview of myself and those around me for the first 20 years of my life.  Copies were made that could then be shared with other family members. They all commented how surprised at what they learned and were so grateful to me for sharing.

I assisted about five years ago my younger sister who developed early Alzheimer’s disease in putting down her story. It was done just in time because the disease quickly accelerated, but we now have her story in her words. Don’t miss the opportunity to write your life story plus anyone else’s that you can help. It is truly a precious legacy.

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