Writing Your Family History

Writing Your Family History

Just for Fun or for Publication

By Mary Emma Allen

Far from being a dull research project, digging into your family's past and writing about the people and events you discover can be fascinating. A family history also helps give a sense of belonging to children and grandchildren, a feeling of continuity between the generations.

My research and writing began when my dad, at 92, asked me to take on the project of writing his memoirs. He'd jotted down some recollections in a notebook which gave me my start. I'd heard some of these stories of his younger life, but had forgotten many and never knew about others. I soon learned he had nearly a century of living to relate, and I discovered I was learning the history of a remarkable man.

Getting to Know Family

When you begin to search your family history, you'll get to know your parents and grandparents in a different way. You'll see them, through their recollectionsand the memories of others, as they were while growing up, struggling to provide a living for a young family, and contributing to their community to make a better life for others.

How To Begin

How do you begin your family history?

*Talk with your parents and record their memories on paper, on audio cassette or video tape.

*Visit other relatives and get their recollections about life in days ago.

*Take photos of living relatives, of old homes where they lived, of the cemeteries where ancestors are buried. Search old photo albums for snapshots of other relatives.

*Don't rely solely on your memory as your parents and relatives relate their stories of younger years. Write down or put on tape what they tell you.

*Go through old letters you might have saved from your parents and relatives as well as those you've written them. These will give you insight into common everyday events that most everyone has forgotten.

*Go to the cemeteries where your ancestors are buried and jot down the dates and names for your family tree.

Publishing a History

You may want to collect this history solely as a family record for yourself and your children. Or you might desire to have it printed in booklet form for family and any others who are interested in what your family has done.

Nowadays, with desktop publishing programs, you even can publish the family history yourself, without having to take it to a printer.

Keep Memories Alive

Family histories are fascinating. Don't let yours be forgotten because someone neglected to write down the tales of yesteryear and record the family tree.

If you don't do this now, someday you'll say, "I wish I'd written all that information down for my children and future generations."

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen is a journalist, columnist, children's writer, book author, and newsletter editor. She is a frequent guest writer for Seeds of Knowledge. Be sure to visit her at her site to get to know her better! E-mail Mary Emma at me.allen@juno.com or Stop by her website.

(c)Copyright Mary Emma Allen


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