Monday, August 10, 2009

More Ideas

Sharman Tullis Gill, “Family Story Ideas,” Ensign, Apr. 2008, 75

Does it seem like an overwhelming task to record your personal and family histories? Actually, it may be more doable and enjoyable than you think. I’ve discovered some fun ways to broaden how we might preserve our precious history.

• Ancestral safari. Organize an outing where family members retell old stories at the sites where they occurred. This is a great opportunity for grandchildren to learn about their ancestors. Don’t forget an audio tape recorder and camera to preserve everyone’s recollections. Perhaps make it an annual tradition.

• Family recipe book. Collect favorite family recipes and any memories or stories associated with them. You will probably find that reminiscing about the aromas, textures, and tastes of favorite foods will bring back a flood of memories. You can work solo on the project or make it a cooperative effort.

• Memory books. Compile a book of recollections focusing on a particular person, such as a child. You might include handwriting samples, news clippings, schoolwork, and photos. Be sure to include your own memories or journal entries about the person.

• Heirloom stories. Any heirloom becomes more meaningful if it’s presented with a simple written history about its original owner. You could include how the individual acquired it, how it was used, original cost (if known), and any family stories associated with it.

• Quilts. Create a stitched family history using such materials as favorite pieces of clothing, blankets, or curtains. Perhaps the quilt could be put together over the years as a child grows up. When it is finished, include an heirloom story, sharing the memories associated with the various fabric pieces.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Family History Now

Yet more wisdom from the Ensign.

Roxanne Freeman, “Family History Now,” Ensign, Jan. 2008, 75

What do taking photographs, scrapbooking, and writing in your journal have in common? They are all relatively simple ways to gather and record your family history. Even during your busiest seasons of life, you can still gather valuable information about immediate and extended family.

1. Take photographs. Develop all your still images and organize them in an album or scrapbook, writing down details as you go. Even if your photos end up in a storage box, at least record pertinent information on the back of each—person’s name, location, and date, if not automatically printed. You can also store this information with your video and digital recordings. Looking back at my 50-year-old photos, I can seldom distinguish my boys from one another in their baby pictures—and neither can anyone else. So make it easy on yourself and record the details as you go. Also, ask family members for copies of old family photos, along with all the information they may have.

2. Scrapbook. Since scrapbooking is a great way to preserve your family’s history, you may want to include full-page descriptions of family events. Short captions are good too, but the more information you can provide, the better. At Mom’s birthday party, for instance, you could list who came and how they are related, where the party was held, what food was served, what gifts she received, and what activities everyone did.

3. Keep a journal. Not only can you express your innermost thoughts in your journal, but you can also keep track of family events. Document births, deaths, marriages, birthdays, graduations, and other important events, including as many details as possible. In writing about Uncle John’s funeral, for instance, tell where it was held, who attended, and their relationship to the deceased. If you don’t already know all the details, tag the journal page so you can verify historical information later.

If you are not able to devote much time to family history work, at least do what you can. Remember that today will soon become yesterday—and eventually history. Don’t let it slip away.