Recently a friend reminded me how important it is to document my own history for genealogy purposes. It’s funny how I find it hard to write about myself when I’m so focused on researching other people. I would recommend that instead of worrying about writing a narrative about your life, try an outline with artifacts.
Your genealogy story (autobiography) could include vital records, church records, school records/diplomas, pictures by year, life changing events, community service, and occupations. Let’s just focus on the basics: vital records, church records, and school records.
Vital records could include birth, marriage, and divorce. You could include stories and pictures related to each event. Is there anyone else you could ask to include a story? Copies of your driver’s license or passport or other items of identification could be interesting and useful at some point.
Church records could include baptism, confirmation, marriage, etc. When I was baptized, I gave a speech and have a tape of it. I could include that. Do you have pictures to remember each event? A video tape? Do you have photographs from events that include others besides yourself or those directly involved?
School records remind us of teachers we had and stories of events that we might remember. Include your report cards and your school picture for each year. If you can’t find a picture at home, you could go to the library and find one in your “old” yearbook. Were you in any sports or other activities? Did you have an after school job? You can depict these by including short stories, interviews from your old friends or bosses, or pictures. If you don’t have a picture of yourself, you can find a picture of something that depicts the era from the internet such as clothing or movies or hairstyles. If you were in sports or activities, you might have been in the newspaper. Can you find any copies? Don’t forget your diplomas and awards. If you receive awards from the activities you were in, gather them and take a picture. Include the picture in your Genealogy Autobiography.
How many of these vital records, church records, and school records do you have? These will get you a great start in writing your Autobiographical Yearbook and Genealogy Story. If you don’t want to start with yourself, try this with your spouse or parent or child. If you’re a parent there’s a good chance you’ve already collected lots of these things for them. Why not do it for yourself?
Weeks after hearing this suggestion from my friend I must say that this was a fun exercise! I’ve revived some great memories that members of my family took an interest in. After all, in the end nobody can tell YOUR story better than you, right?
Kim has a passion for Genealogy. After retiring from a career as a teacher, administrator and education consultant, she spent the past several years doing extensive family research. She is a newsletter editor for the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Peoria County Genealogy Society. Kim is also a member of the Peoria Chapter of DAR Daughter of American Revolution and a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.