Sharing My Story and The Stories Of My Family

If the Covid-19 Pandemic has taught me anything, it’s taught me that life is fragile. Thankfully I haven’t had any family members taken away by it, but I do know some genealogy friends who have.

This year, I’ve had time to think about things, and here are some of the conclusions and decisions that I’ve made.

  • I love genealogy, but my family probably doesn’t want to continue with my research, at least not anyone I know about
  • My family might like something that tells the story of the family.
  • Isn’t it odd when you realized that you are becoming or are the older generation? This was when I realized I needed to tell my stories too.
  • Focusing on one person or one family really brings everything together and sometimes even gives you more clues (see the lightbulb moment).
  • Having the right tools are important.

The Lightbulb Moment

Do you ever have those moments that you think… why have I never realized this before?

This past week I came to the conclusion that I really need to focus on a family and write their story for about a week, two weeks, or even a month, depending on how much information I have about them. This way, I can collect all the facts that I have about them and gather them all in one place. If you are like me, you probably have things in your genealogy program, in your emails (correspondence with cousins), and in paper files.

By gathering the things together and going through the process of writing the stories of the entire family and looking at dates, facts, and timelines (I love timelines), this makes it easier to realize if there are some gaps in your research or things you’ve never thought about before.

I never noticed this before when I was writing about individuals, but when I started to write about the whole family, that made the difference. You can still write about the individual, but I’m thinking you’d do that after writing the family story.

Ideas To Preserve Your Story and Your Research

If you feel similarly to me that perhaps there might not be someone that wants your research but they might like to still know the stories, here are some of my ideas. Some are easy to do, some are more involved and might cost a bit of money. So here are my ideas, in no particular order.

Create A Book ($)

If you think your family might like the stories, then I say create a book. There are several ways of doing that. I use FOREVER, so I’ll speak about them, but there are other companies you can create a book with. The reason I like FOREVER is that the books that you create are printed on archival paper that will last 200 years.

There are several types of books that you can create. You can create Autobooks and Photobooks (standard and lay-flat)**. A good layout to create a family history book is Vintage Family Memories. You can start your project and come back to it, so you don’t have to create it in one sitting (ask me how if you’d like to try it out). Also, the Simple Seven books would work well because there is room for photos and writing.

The other approach and this is what I have done, is to create a book using a program called; FOREVER Artisan 6. What I like about it is you can create books, and with the purchase of digital art, you can truly make the book your own. You can create more than just books, but for now, I’m not getting into that.

So I’ve started to write two books. One is called “I Will Remember You – Thompson and the other “I Will Remember You – Middlebrough” several months ago. So each book is about each of my parental lines.

Here’s an example of the cover and one of the pages

I have been writing a few pages as I have time or as I come across photos that have a story that I’d like to share. So the photos that I have are from a more recent time (so they are my story), and then I continue with the rest of my tree. Currently, I have more than twenty pages completed in both my books. As you go further back in time, there might be more journaling, but you can add photos that you’ve taken on previous family history trips or by finding non-copyrighted images online.

Not all my pages will be this vintage look. I’ve already decided when I write about my own garden and compare it to my grandmother’s garden I’m going to use this type of page.

In My Garden Collection

So whether you choose a book template or FOREVER Artisan, the key is to set up a schedule so that you get the job done. So choose a person or family and write about them for one week, two weeks or a month. Whatever works for you. I use to work on a genealogy family of the month for my research and then after that month, I’d decided if I wanted to continue with them, so I know this process works. Make an appointment with yourself because that helps, get it done.

FOREVER Storage ($)

As I said earlier, there are a lot of things that I’ve collected that I would like to preserve for future generations. Even if my family doesn’t want it, I can put it in my FOREVER Storage account and then set the preservation settings to open these photos, videos, and PDFs to the public after my death. You can actually set the amount of time that needs to pass before they are public.

By doing this, you are preserving your research for generations to come. If you’ve tagged your things, someone will be able to search for it and find it.

Note that you can get a FREE 2GB intro account to try FOREVER Storage, and you’ll be able to store approximately 500 photos and even PDFs. But remember it’s the paid account that is preserved for your lifetime plus 100 years.

On-Line Genealogy Trees

Where ever you have your online tree, add the events and stories to it. If you have a tree on Ancestry, MyHeritage, Find my Past, WikiTree, or FamilySearch, or any other site. Add the facts, and if possible, add the stories as a PDF to your tree.

Tools

I use the tools that I’ve mentioned above, but here are a few that I haven’t mentioned that I use as well.

Grammarly ($) is a spelling and grammar checking tool. There is a free version, but I have the pro version because of this blog. Depending on how much writing you do will depend on whether it’s the right tool for you. I like the fact that sometimes it rewrites my sentences, and they do sound much better. The pro version costs me  $139.95 US, and for me, it’s worth it.

OneNote comes free with a PC computer and I use OneNote for capturing notes and keeping information about family groups. I’ve been using it for years and you can share it with family.

So as you can imagine I’ll be busy this winter and have lots of time to get “My Poop In A Group” and writing my family’s stories.

**If you’d like more information on how to create one of these books please contact me at ellen@familyhistoryhound.com

Note: The post above contains affiliate links. This means I make a small percentage of the sales via these links. This does not INCREASE the price you pay as a consumer. This is a supplement to my income so I can continue  to support The DNA Angel Project and to make donations to the Alzheimer’s’ Society

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