Writing

Documenting Family Stories

June 7, 2017

One of the most valuable ways that people can remember their families involves documenting family stories. When you think about yourself and how you want to be remembered, you might specifically think about your accomplishments and the things that you’ve done with your life. Of course, every single one of these accomplishments has a story behind it, and that’s what a lot of people will remember when they talk about it. They might be benefiting from the results, but they will still care about the story.

You might also want people to remember specific anecdotes and stories about your life. There are lots of different key moments that you might think of when you try to conceptualize yourself and your identity. All of these different moments have been technically lost to time, but you remember them. In all likelihood, you would prefer if other people remembered them as well. In all likelihood, other members of your family and other people’s families feel the same way.

Identity is complicated, but people are at least partly the sum of their memories. We can’t preserve those memories in another mind. However, we can at least share those memories with other people and keep them going that way. This can make all the difference in the world in many cases.

There are lots of ways to document family stories. For one thing, you can just write them down in the form of a journal, interviewing members of your family as if you were a professional journalist. Some people are more visually inclined, and they might want to make collages, scrapbooks, or video blogs about their family members in order to really keep track of them. Of course, some people might want to do all of the above, knowing that keeping a lot of different records is often the best strategy if you want to make sure that some piece of the family history will truly stand the test of time.

Historians tend to have a fondness for the historical figures that kept detailed records of their lives and the lives of others. These people create documents and works of art that can quickly become the sort of primary sources that a lot of other people will use when they’re trying to study the entire time period.

Your family stories might not become important to historians. However, they will certainly be important to anyone who remembers your family or who cares about your family. Your family also certainly left its mark on the world in its own way. Trying to keep that going is worthwhile. The more you write and the more you create, the better.