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Friday Family History: Are You Leaving a Paper Trail?

Anyone who tries to research family history knows how frustrating it can be to try to learn more about people who have died.  Sure, thanks to the internet, finding documents is easier than it used to be, but how easy is it to really know your ancestors, their challenges, their hopes, and their triumphs?

Although we might be able to only piece together bits of information in our quest to learn about our forebears, we can do our part to make our descendants search easier.

First of all, we can write down our memories and information about our parents and grandparents.  Just the other day, I read something my grandmother had written about her mother.  She mentioned that her mother was small, yet physically strong.  I thought, "So that's where she got it!"  When we moved from one house to another, my grandma moved the 100 pound barrels of wheat out of the garage to load onto the moving truck.  If she hadn't written that description of her mother, I wouldn't have known that she shared that trait with her mom. 

Likewise, we can keep journals.  No one ever thinks that his own life is interesting enough to merit documenting, but I love reading accounts of normal, everyday people from the past.  Or the present, for that matter--think of all the wealth of collective wisdom found on blogs! Just to be clear, I do NOT recommend reading a journal without the express permission of the living author, though. 

Besides the possible help a journal might give to posterity, the very act of journal-keeping is beneficial to the writer.  Clarity can come in writing about a situation, lessons learned can be more readily remembered, and memorable experiences have a better chance of actually being recalled.  I don't trust my grocery list to memory; why would I try that technique with my entire life? 



Do you keep a journal?  Have you learned about your ancestors through their journal entries?

Thanks for journal-keepers: past, present, and future!



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Comments

  1. That was brilliant about the grocery list! And so true! My blog is my quilting journal, but I don't write much about my personal life. I think I'll try and keep a personal journal now! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  2. Great post. From time to time, I prepare posts, remembering certain family traditions and memories. I need to do more of that.

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  3. I have been wanting to start a private journal. I even bought a journal! LOL Maybe when I get home will be a great time to start. Thanks!

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  4. What a thoughtful post! :) My father and I have both written our autobiographies. We inspired each other through the process with memory exercises, conversations and journal/diary entries kept over the years. Mine is over 300 pages and gets added to every six months or so to recap the most recent events. My father's book is about half that long as he has had a lot of trouble recalling his childhood and piecing everything back together. I had the upper hand starting at age 30 while my father will be 60 this week. Your post is a great reminder that we can add at to history today, even if we don't think it's significant in any way. Somebody, someday, will be thrilled to read your account of life today. Cheers!

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