We all know how important learning history is. History is still a class being taught in schools all over the world. It’s important to learn from our triumphs and just as important to learn from our mistakes. Have you ever thought about the stories your kids will tell their grandkids about you? Have you ever thought about how much your children actually know about you and your past? It’s kind of scary to me to think that my kids might forget my stories. And even more scary to me that they might never learn my mom and dad’s stories. This is why it’s so important to make sure we are writing our history.
If you have been a journal writer, I commend you. I can not write in a journal. I don’t like to handwrite things. Although I know it is important for my kids to see my handwriting, writing in a journal has never been something I’ve liked to do. I like to write in my family blog where I can use pictures I’ve taken to help me remember what happened. Right now I’m a year behind on my family blog to get it up to date. So I’m not doing too bad. But there are so many other things I need to write down for posterity’s sake. Memories about my childhood. Memories of my grandparents whom my children have never met. Memories of where I used to live and the types of things I did when I was little. These are all very important things to me and I know my kids will think they are important when they grow up and have their own families. They may not appreciate it now, but they will when they are older.
So we are going to work together. I will be posting a question on my facebook page a couple times a week. You will copy the question and paste it into a document editor on your computer (like google docs) or write it down in a journal and then answer the question. By the end of the year we will have a whole book full of our history! So easy, right? Just answer a couple of questions a week.
I will list the questions here so you can just copy and paste them into a word document if you would like to have them all there for you to answer when you have a free second. It’s really neat to keep them in a google doc because then you can do it from anywhere. While you’re waiting in the pick up line at school from your phone. While you are waiting for an oil change. While your kids are doing homework, etc.
Let’s get our histories written down for future generations. Just think about how excited you would be to find a document like this from your parents, grandparents or great grandparents.
Here are a few of my tips.
- You don’t have to start at the beginning. Your life history doesn’t need to be in chronological order to be valuable. Just start writing it.
- Remember to set an alarm for the days you want to answer questions. Then you will never forget.
- If you are using a computer or devices to do this, make sure you are saving them in different places. Like one copy in Google Docs and one in a Word Processor on your Computer.
- Your answer doesn’t have to be a long, perfectly written paragraph. Just write what you remember and move on. Don’t stress about it or you won’t do it.
- Keep at it and remember that it will all be worth it when you’re memories are preserved.
I’m so excited for this challenge! The questions I’ll be asking are from the Family Search website. Remember, you can do them as I post them on facebook, or you can copy and paste them all into a document and and answer them when you have a spare moment. They have 52 questions, one for each week, or you can do two a week with us. I’ll add some of my own questions into the mix as we go.
When you are done, go to FamilySearch.org, and add your stories to your family tree. By adding your stories to your private branch of Family Tree, you ensure that they will be safe and secure for future generations. Your great-grandchildren will be able to find them and enjoy reading about your life and getting to know who you are.
In addition, you can print your stories and have them bound in a book. I like the spiral bound books the best. You can do this at any office supply store that has a copy center. Like Office Max or Staples.
Have a great year everyone!
Here are our first 20 questions to get you started. In a few weeks I’ll post more questions to keep you rolling.
- What is your full name? Why did your parents give you that name?
- When and where were you born? Describe your home, your neighborhood, and the town you grew up in.
- Tell me about your father (his name, birth date, birthplace, parents, and so on). Share some memories you have of your father.
- Tell me about your mother (her name, birth date, birthplace, parents, and so on). Share some memories you have of your mother.
- What kind of work did your parents do (farmer, salesman, manager, seamstress, nurse, stay-at-home mom, professional, laborer, and so on)?
- Have any of your family members died? If so, what did they die from? What do you remember of their death, and what were the circumstances of their death?
- What kind of hardships or tragedies did your family experience while you were growing up?
- Are there any unusual genetic traits that run in your family line?
- What are the names of your brothers and sisters? Describe things that stand out in your mind about each of your siblings.
- What were some of the family traditions that you remember?
- Did your family have special ways of celebrating specific holidays?
- Share a few memories of your grandparents.
- Did your grandparents live close by? If so, how much were they involved in your life? If they lived far away did you ever travel to visit them? What was that like?
- Who were your aunts and uncles? Do you have any aunts or uncles who really stand out in your mind? Write something about them (names, personalities, events that you remember doing with them, and so on).
- Where did you go to school? What was school like for you?
- What were your favorite subjects in school? Why?
- What subjects did you like the least? Why?
- Who were some of your friends in school? What were they like? What are they doing today?
- If you went on to get a college or vocational education, what school did you go to? What did you study? What memories do you have of those years?
- What do you see as your strengths?
I would LOVE to hear the types of questions you would ask your ancestors if you could talk to them. Please leave me a comment below and I’ll add your question to the list!
Also, if you are really big into family history then I would suggest attending RootsTech in Salt Lake City this February.
RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world, is looking forward to over 20,000 visitors over four days with an exciting array of speakers and entertainers, over 250 interesting and informative classes, a huge expo hall with more than 160 exhibitors. There is something for every level of family history—from the beginner to experienced. The three-day conference begins on Thursday, February 4, and goes throughSaturday, February 6. For more information go to RootsTech.org.
The keynote speakers and offerings reflect the growing influence of family history. Today multiple generations of all ages are engaging through family storytelling and sharing memories within families using social media and an expanding array of new technologies and mobile apps. The opening session on February 4 will begin with Stephen T. Rockwood, who is the managing director for the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and President/CEO of FamilySearch International.
Also featured is Paula Williams Madison who is chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC, a Los Angeles based media consultancy company with global reach. After her retirement in 2011, Madison started doing research on her family lineage. She wrote the book and produced a movie Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem in April 2015 about her experiences. A free screening of the movie will be provided on Wednesday, February 3.
Bruce Feiler is one of America’s most popular commentators about contemporary life. He hosts the PBS series Walking the Bible and Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. He wrote The Secrets of Happy Families containing best practices for busy parents from some of the country’s most creative minds. He has appeared on many television shows on NRP, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and others.
On Friday, February 5, David Isay, is a scheduled keynote. He’s the founder of StoryCorps, an award-winning organization that provides people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their life stories. 50,000 interviews have been archived and preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. He has also written several New York Times bestsellers, including Listening is an Act of Love. He is a broadcaster and documentarian, and his research reveals ways to tell great stories for the family historian.
Also on Friday, Josh and Naomi Davis, popular family bloggers known as Love Taza, will speak. On their blog, they relate their life with their three children in bustling New York City. The blog has become a digital destination viewed by millions around the world. People love the inspiration about raising a family and the appreciation Naomi has for life’s simple joys.
On Saturday, February 6, Doris Kearns Goodwin is a world-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. She worked with Spielberg on the movie Lincoln, based in part on her award winning Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. She has written books about Frank and Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and the Kennedys and shares her expertise and commentary on many television shows. She has a PhD in government from Harvard and was an assistant to Lyndon Johnson and has been a consultant in several PBS and History Channel documentaries.
Also on Saturday, Michael Leavitt, a three-term former governor of Utah, will speak. He also served in George W. Bush’s cabinet as an Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The second annual Innovator Summit is a one-day event on Wednesday, February 3, for developers, entrepreneurs, and innovators from around the globe to explore, examine, and discover business and technological opportunities within the family history industry—a rapidly growing multibillion dollar industry. Innovators from around the globe and from all industries will be competing for a piece of the $100,000 in total cash and in-kind prizes. The keynote speaker for this event will be Ken Krogue, an entrepreneur who has taken his business InsideSales.com from a small beginning to a billion dollar industry. He will share his expertise about social media and how to use the different forms effectively.
More information about speakers, entertainers, classes, and how to register at RootsTech can be found at RootsTech.org.
RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.