Family History

By Doug Mayberry

Q: I am a widowed 68-year-old male who has gotten a family wake-up call. No one has plans or has written our families’ history. Our parents have passed, and I realize I have become the only willing to consider recording it. How do I get started?

Keep it simple and organized, or you may give up. Buy a couple of packs of index cards. Write one fact, date and description on each photo and card. Begin interviewing the family by asking questions, jogging memories and encouraging members to contribute what they remember. Family gatherings for holidays and anniversaries are golden opportunities. One-on-one opportunities prove to be the most fruitful.

Lean on technology for memory purposes. A Smartphone, regular camera and a tape recorder can provide memory backup.  Maybe even a glass of wine might encourage some to spill the families’ secrets.

During your conversations and research, pin down the most significant events and prioritize them for your final draft. Everyone has a story to tell. Keepsakes, such as photos, ticket stubs, birth announcements and marriage invitations, help with memory. You will discover a timeline for the best way to define your history.

There are many excellent genealogical websites that can help steer you to background information more efficiently. Check them out at your library.

After you publish gift copies for your families, give yourself an A+!   –CNS

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