This quote by author, Sue Monk Kidd, gives us one very important reason for writing our family history, our family stories. I would add--not only told but written.
I received an email message yesterday from a person I have not met nor even heard of. While doing some internet browsing looking for bits and pieces of her family members, she ran across a personal essay I'd written about a man who happened to be her father's cousin. She was able to find me through a comments link and profile that went with the story.
She told me that she is writing the family history and family stories to create a book for her grandchildren, who are quite young now. She wanted to do more than just 'tell' them stories about the family. If she wrote things, they would have the information forever. She told me that she had printed my story and is including it in the book as it details the life of her father's cousin quite well.
It pleased me that one of my stories will be a part of the book she is assembling for her grandchildren. It also made me aware of how much easier it is in today's technological world for people to do the research and to find links to others who might be of help in uncovering information about relatives. Sure, it takes some time and effort but it's far easier than having to travel the globe searching for people who might help with information about your family.
Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I urge people to write their family stories and assemble them in a book for children, grandchildren and future generations. Doing this can be an interesting project and even lots of fun. Believe me, other family members will appreciate your effort for years to come. And yes, it does take some effort but, for something this important, it is well worth doing.
A few things to include in your Family Stories book:
- Dates, even if they are only estimates
- Marriages, Births and Deaths
- Photos (or copies of photos) with dates, if possible
- Full names--not just Aunt Lois but Aunt Lois (Morgan) Larson--mother's sister
- Interviews with family members--definitely interview those still living; their memories will add to your own
- Places--use both town and state or country
- Jobs or businesses family member had
- Awards or recognition any family members had
- What life was like when you grew up--schools, churches, towns, sports etc
- Any pertinent maps
- Individual stories that have something to do with your family--write these, not just as a report, but with love and humor or sympathy woven through the story
- Add whether you were there when the story happened or it was told to you
You're probably thinking that this book could get pretty big. You're right! You might consider assembling one book about your immediate family and another including the extended family with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents etc.
We don't want to let our family stories die so it's up to us to see that they are saved for and savored by our family members. Remember this--you do not have to be a professional writer to tackle this project.