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You Should Write Your Family History

It's never too late to start writing your Family History. Those stories told by old folks should be written down so future generations can read them. This history passed on from one generation to the next is traditionally spoken but can now be written!

Now you might say it's too late to start writing down all the family stories because some of the old storytellers have died. Oh if only we'd started recording the family stories years ago! But if you think about it, that is always true, even if you could go back hundreds of years. Anyone at any time in history could have said that, because at any point in the ongoing history of the family it could have been considered that the previous history had already been lost.

So, let's start NOW to write history as it is, using whatever memories are still available. You may be able to remember people who told an old story even though they are no longer there to tell it themselves. Just write it all down. A computer text file is best, as you can keep on adding to it as you remember more and more, and you can rearrange better as more of the picture comes into focus. Corrections in a text file don't show, and the file can grow and be continually added to as time goes on.

Keep backups so you don't need to find out about data recovery!

Here's a suggested method for writing your family history:

1. Start a new file, probably family.txt , and keep it where you know where it is.

2. Write a separate entry for each piece of history, with a title for each, and a paragraph of text, and then several blank lines before the next item.

3. Keep on writing additional entries whenever you remember something else to add.

4. Add as much detail and material as you can, and if you are uncertain, say so. The key feature to this is writing the actual stories about real people and about what they were like and what they did. This is much more than the genealogical family tree births and deaths data. We are talking about writing about people's lives.

5. Give backups to other trusted members of the family, but make sure that if they want to add things they keep it separate so you can add the whole lot together without getting in a mess.

Here's an example of the kind of thing:



Family History


My dad was born in 1953. He was a dustman and he once found a gold ring in a dustbin. His dog always played up the neighbours.


Grandma always had a strange belief that there was a UFO buried under the municipal gasworks. She was very fond of her knitting and some of it is still hidden in the loft.


The old family home had the old style doors but was sadly lost when the local supermarket was built. You can still see the bumps in the car park.


The family cat was known as Fluffy and used to sleep on Grandma's knitting, and once stole the sunday lunch.


My mobile is really neat, only weighs 2Kg, and has a very snazzy "ring-tone" thing which goes beep when the phone rings.


I never knew Great Grandma but I heard one of the aunts say that she was a keen croquet player and would sometimes beat the vicar.



OK, that's fictional, but what's important is the format, plus the fact that YOUR family history is going to much more interesting than that! You can start writing your family stories and pieces of history and generations to come will be astonished at the things going on in the present day which will become history.

Also see You Should Write a Diary, History, supporting the noble cause of Archaeology, and most notably now Tracing Your Family Ancestry! Delve into your family's potentially darker past with Find My Past. Store all of your family data and research in albums from Arrowfile. Another helpful contact in your genealogical quest is 192.com which is the UK's leading people tracing service, whose products include the UK Info Disc. You could pool resources with your relatives at One Great Family. For our Spanish speaking visitors, there's always Vidas Passadas.