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December 8, 2009

Sharing Memories: A Genealogy Journey (Week 1)

A few months ago I talked about Memory Books and Genealogy Journal writing

It's important as genealogists that we not forget about writing our own story. Yes, we all want to find information on our ancestors and once we find it, most of us will put it in booklet form to share with other family members. But what about our own memories? We may think writing about ourselves is boring or egotistical but stop and think how excited you would be if you found a journal or memoirs that your great great grandmother kept!

I began my Life Story last year. As I mentioned in my previous posts, I started with my first memory and tried to keep my journal chronological. It was a matter of writing down my memories of each year of my life - or so I thought! That soon proved to be very difficult. I got confused - had I written about my mother falling on the ice her first time skating? Or my father dressing up as Santa then giving out the wrong presents? I simply could not recall what I had already written and what was a memory that had just surfaced.

So after months of mulling this over I've decided on a new method of writing my own life story. This new method will keep me on track, and will help get rid of confusion - did I or didn't I already talk about an event.

I will write about my memories of the past - memories of my family (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings), memories of special events, stories told by my parents or grandparents, my time at school, as a child, a teenager, an adult, newly married - in short it will be my life story but broken into events (topics) rather than chronological.

My hope is that my readers will follow along with me on this genealogy journey. I invite you to start your own journal and write along with me day by day, week by week and month by month. I will share some of my stories as I go along, and it would be wonderful if readers shared theirs too by using the comment feature on this blog, or by posting to your own blog.

I'll be writing my journal using various topics as a guideline, and I'll keep my journal for that week following the topic guidelines. A weekly topic will keep us writing daily in order to complete the topic by the end of the week!

A few suggestions are

* Buy a good book to keep your Life Memories in. I write in leather bound journals from Iona Handcrafted books, simply because I like how they feel and look important! They look like something that won't be tossed in the trash 50 years from now. That's important because I"m writing my memories for my descendants - children, grandchildren, great grandchildren not yet born. So I don't want to write in something that could easily be discarded in the future simply because it doesn't look worth saving

* Combine facts (where you went to school, names of teachers, where you lived) as well as emotions - happy and sad. Remember these are your memories so it's up to you to decide what you want to share. But don't overlook the sad moments too.

* Stay focused on the topic but jot down other memories that pop into your head as you are writing. You will be amazed at what memories surface as you are putting your thoughts down on paper. You can add those jot notes later when we get to a topic that fits.

* Don't type your memories - writing them by hand gives your descendants a sense of YOU - your style, your emotions. Handwriting is a reflection of our personality.

* choose a daily time period to write. If you can get in the habit of writing at the same time each day, you will find your journal writing flows more easily. Write early morning with your cup of tea or coffee. Write just as you are going bed or after supper when the children have gone to bed. Whatever is a good quiet time for you. I try to set aside 30 minutes each day. I don't always write for that 30 minutes, sometimes all I manage is 5 or 10! But that's okay.

I'm going to begin my Sharing Memories Journal this month with a topic suitable for the season, so drop back tomorrow to see what topic I've chosen to start my Genealogy Journal. Hopefully you will join me to begin recording and saving your own precious memories of your life to date.

To find all our Sharing Memories Topics, just click on the SHARING MEMORIES label in the right side bar of this blog or on the SHARING MEMORIES label of this post


FranE said...

I posted a comment on FB, but I will here also. Until you lose a family member and find their journals and family history they have written, it doesn't take on a great importance. I used to fuss at my husband for the hours he spent at his writing, now I am thankful for his thoughtfulness.

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

I so agree with your post here. I would bet most genealogists concentrate on finding all the info they can along with the dates and facts for their ancestors, and forget just what a treasure one of our descendants would consider it if they found the info we can leave behind!

Sanjay Maharaj said...

Leaving behind your memories and your legacy is everyones responsibility and I cannot agree more that as genealogist it makes great sense to do so, after all you also are special to a lot of people in your lives.

Genealem said...


I run two writing classes for seniors in my town, have written a few booklets on the subject and have an online writing group. These activities started 5-6 yrs ago...I've lost track. Your recent conclusions have been what I have "preached" for all this time. Glad to see you are helping others do this. I urge you to see my blog on writing and encourage your group to also do a Timeline. It is explained there. URL is below.

Best wishes,
If you do not hear from me in a timely manner, just write again...I was buried in email. LOL
Northwest Regional Coordinator and Speaker for ISOGG (
Administrator for thirteen FTDNA DNA Projects

Catherine said...

Hi! I am new at this...
Can anyone tell me how I can catch up and get the first 10 weeks topics? Where are they on the website...or are they gone by now. I would like to catch up. I have been wanting to do this for a long time and having topics will help! Thank you!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Catherine - I'm so glad you are going to join us!

If you look at the right hand side bar of the blog you will see a list of TOPICS. Just choose GENEALOGY JOURNAL WRITING *or* SHARING MEMORIES and click.

You will see a list of all the blog posts for each week we have been writing.

Please contact me directly if you still have trouble finding the weekly topics ( but change the AT to @)

Robin said...

How in the world did I miss this one? HUMM! Grandfathers, great place to start though...

R Harrison Scott said...

I just discovered your Yahoo group and your memories blog and thought you might be interested in visiting an anecdotal blog I started writing several months ago. Unlike most blogs which appear with the most recent entry on top, I've organized my memories in chronological order.

The reason I decided to do this is that I realized that I knew next to nothing about my parents and that the knowledge that some of my direct descendants came over to the US on the Mayflower wasn't the least bit interesting to me because that knowledge told me nothing about their life's experiences.

Writing this using Wordpress also eliminates the need to concern myself with the idea that inevitably most diaries end up getting thrown away or in a yard sale. And the beauty of this is that one can create a memoir without spending a penny.

I invite you to visit my blog and please feel free to make comment. My blog address is


RHarrison Scott