Recording our own thoughts, feelings and memories is an important (but often neglected) part of family history.
How often have you desperately wished you’d asked earlier generations about some aspect of their life? Only now, they’ve passed away and it’s too late. Their memories are gone.
No matter how many questions we ask our elders, when they die, we often realise there were still more questions we wish we could have asked.
Table of Contents
Your Memories Are Precious
Think of your memories as a fragile, delicate, one-of-a-kind artwork. Would you shove a shoddily wrapped Da Vinci in the attic? Nope! Yet, that’s what we do with our memories. We assume we can ‘keep them’ in the depths of our long-term memory, despite the fact that these are precious, unique things.
No one can replicate our memories. But sadly, age and illness can steal them from us. If we haven’t shared those memories, then they will inevitably be lost at some point. Tragically, they might even become lost to us within our own life time.
But, whilst we might agree, we need to protect our memories – we also need solutions that are quick and easy. Solutions, we can adopt and maintain.
Putting Memories on Paper
The obvious solution to keeping note of our memories might be to keep a diary. Fab idea, but honestly I am in awe of anyone who manages to regularly maintain diary writing. I have sporadically kept a diary but sometimes I go years between entries!
So here’s a couple of solutions for those (like me) that have the will but lack consistency:
One Line A Day
One Line A Day diaries encourage you to capture just one moment in each day. It’s diary writing, but condensed into it’s shortest possible form.
You can purchase diaries especially made for this purpose (Etsy has some fantastic examples) OR just use a standard diary and make a conscious decision to use this approach.
Now a hobby that you can choose to do either physically or digitally. Or both!
If you are a little more artistic, why not try using images to prompt regular capture of memories? Images don’t have to be photos – they could be text based artwork, such as quotes. Or get creative with all sorts of memory-jogging paraphernalia – concert tickets, hospital tags from newborn babies, postcards, letters etc.
Digital Memory Recording Solutions
There are a host of apps available to help you capture your memories – either in diary format or as a type of archive of memories.
Miigen is an incredible free tool, that aims to help you create your own digital time capsule. Upload photos, audio notes, videos. You can even sign in using your FamilySearch account.
Invite family and friends to join in. Upload your old Facebook status’ and share with others easily. Miigen is a fantastic digital solution to keeping memories safe.
Reliving is also a digital time capsule tool. It has tools to help you interview your family members and a daily prompt to encourage you to record your mood and thoughts directly into the app.
Can you imagine discovering your ancestor had written a autobiography? Wouldn’t that be a fantastic find!
What if you created something to pass on to your loved ones? You might be the only person in your family left to have personally met members of the previous generation.
Here’s some solutions to explore:
The rolls-royce of solutions, Dragon’s Den winning company, StoryTerrace will pair you with a biographer. Through phone, video or even in person meetings, they’ll work with you to write your book.
MemLife is an app that prompts you to record your memoir through a series of questions. It also allows for a free flow entry of memories. There are sharing, collaboration options and you can create a free lifebook.
Share Your Memories
Recording your memories, diary keeping or writing memoires doesn’t have to be done in isolation.
You could ask a family member (or several) to help work with you – especially on some of the digital solutions noted above.
There are also courses, clubs and no doubt Facebook Groups all dedicated to memoir writing.
Similarly if you don’t have any family to pass the memories along to, it shouldn’t exclude you. Organisations, like the British Library Oral History Collection, local libraries and other historical societies or groups may be interested too.
This blog post was inspired by my interview with Helen Tovey, editor of Family Tree magazine. You can watch, listen or just find out more about Helen’s interview here.
What will you write about and how, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter to let me know how you get on!
Join The Curious Descendants!
If you enjoyed this then you’ll LOVE my Curious Descendants emails. I send daily emails packed with family history writing tips, ideas and stories. Plus a weekly news roundup, ensuring you’ll never miss one of my articles (or an episode of #TwiceRemoved) ever again.