Family History in the Making: Journaling

Who are you…who were you?

We talk a lot about researching our family history and seeking out our Ancestry – but it’s also important that we record our own family history that’s happening right now.

How I would love to know more about my grandparents, and my great-grandparents, and those who lived before them.  In my family we have many photographs from the past, unnamed and undated with only a few stories that our parents passed on to us to help us identify those who once were our living breathing relatives.

But unless we take action mow, it’s possible that within a few generations our descendants could be looking at photographs of us, and asking, who were you…

Forgotten in two generations

“A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory.”
–Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander


In just two generations we could be forgotten. What a scary thought. But who’s fault is that? Are we doing enough to document our lives, so that grandchildren, great-grandchildren and those yet to come, will know who were were, where we lived and worked?

Will they know about the people that we loved – our spouse, children, brothers and sisters, our parents, our friends? Will they know of the places we visited, the country we loved, the hobbies and crafts we so enjoyed? Could we be like the family above, scrubbed and polished, staring intently into the camera; a little family that perhaps no one remembers?

Visual journaling in a digital era

This is the age where just about everyone owns a camera or camera phone and a quick look online will show us that we love taking photographs of family, friends, places and even ourselves. But an undocumented photograph can soon become an image of an unknown person. Unless we add data to that image, somewhere down the line, it will probably become just another unidentified image. The internet is full of them.

It can be argued that we document our daily lives on Social Media, but none of us can tell how long our information will remain there. Social Media can’t be relied upon to tell our story many years from now, so it’s important to get that information into a format that will last.

Are your photographs documented and backed up?

Did you know that almost 9 in 10 adults have lost photos from their cell phones, computers and social media sites? Back them up to your computer, cloud storage, external hard drive – or have them printed & put in an album or photobook.

Traditional Journaling

Digital just doesn’t suit everyone. Many people still love putting a real pen to real paper, and that’s alright. We shouldn’t feel pressured into following a route that we’re not comfortable with. The important thing is actually taking the time to record important events in our families lives, and storing it in a safe place. Paper will never go out of fashion, no matter how hard the digital era tries – you only have to look at the queues in stores such as Paperchase to see that!

You are unique

In our February 2014 Additional Meeting, we tried to show that there are now many ways of documenting our lives, and the lives of our families. The emphasis was on visual journaling – learning ways to be creative by using cards, scrapbooks or it’s digital version – digital scrapbooking.  Journaling with photobooks and albums, creating a memory box to hold items from a special occasion and more.

No matter how you choose to document your life – there’s no better time than now to make a start.

Reach for a pen and paper, start typing on your computer, or your tablet and talk about you. Once you have told a little bit of your story make sure that it is kept in a safe place.  If it’s on your computer, remember that your computer’s hard drive won’t go on forever, so you don’t want to completely rely on it. Back it up to an external hard drive, or add it to the Memories section of FamilySearch. Photographs and documents can also be uploaded and attached to your family tree.

You are unique. No one will ever know you better than you know yourself.

Tell your story.

Need help?

If you need some help in documenting your family history (past or present), there are many people in Irvine Ward who are willing to take the time to listen and advise. Whatever you’re stuck with, there’s someone just waiting to give you the answer.

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