Genealogy with Lisa Marker: Saving yourself

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

By Lisa Marker

You can put your memories together!

Don’t wait to start labeling your photos, or to start telling your story (writing it down).

I just spent several weeks preparing to go to a weekend reunion of the camp that I attended for several years as a kid.

Part of the preparation was scanning photos from my camp days, and trying to figure out the Who-When-Where of each photo. I got lucky in that I uncovered some memory books made at the time that contained some fellow campers names, as well the counselors’ names. I also found the camp alumni page on FaceBook, and through some sharing there, managed to come up with some other names.

However, thirty plus years later, I did manage to screw some things up - like reversing a couple of years and mislabeling photos (which did get corrected, but only after I’d put a lot of work into it already). I wish I’d done it the moment I got them home after camp.

The moral of the story is: now is the time to start recording your life. It does not have to be all at once. And don’t worry about your skill as a writer. Just write. Your life is interesting now. Your descendants will love you for doing it!

If you have trouble coming up with topics, there are tons of oral interview questions on the web. Another resource with lots of questions to kick-start your memory is a book called “To Our Children’s Children,” by Bob Greene.

Write about certain times in your life (school years, summers, holidays), or choose topics, like your favorite music, movies or vacation spots. Give the reader a sense of who you were, where you grew up, why you chose to do something (or had to).

Use photos as memory prompts too - you might be reminded of a certain event, and be able to describe it in detail.

If you are overwhelmed by this right now, get out some photos of people you recognize. Label them with full descriptions - full names, and as much detail as you can put in about when and where the photo was taken.

Although I won’t go into the details of preserving photos here, please don’t use ball point pen on photos. You will ruin them in the long run. Obtain a photo labeling pencil (search for this online) to write descriptions on the back. Be gentle with your photographs.

Start recording your stories now - you remember more now than you will later (trust me!), and you might even have some fun!


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