By Amanda Forson, FamilyLink.com, Inc.
One way to make sure that family history is kept is to start with the present generation. This can be done in a number of different ways, but one of the best is through keeping a journal. This is a great way to capture details of your everyday life for present and future generations.
Day One: Decide to keep a journal and decide on the time when writing fits most easily into your schedule. This may be a once-a-day calendar, like a planner, a once a week summary of weekly events, or other formats.
Day Two: Choose a format–A Journal can be handwritten (long-hand or in shorthand, for those that know shorthand), electronic (commonly known as a blog or web log), or can be based on pictures and mementos (scrapbooking). Before choosing a format, take 15 minutes on each of the next three days to try each style. Once you have decided how you will keep your diary, make sure that the products or materials required are easily accessible.
Day Three: For a handwritten journal, (if it is to survive long after the writer is deceased) choose acid-free paper, or an acid-free blank book, and an archival pen. These are usually available at craft stores near scrapbooking supplies. If the journal is meant for ease of use and at least getting the copy down on paper, then an ordinary spiral-bound notebook and pen should suffice. These types of less permanent journals must be transcribed for preservation.
Day Four: For a blog, all that is needed is a place to keep the log and a computer connection. Most blogs can be accessed readily from any computer for the editor of the blog, though they can be password-protected, enabling the writer to write only for him or herself, and only for the audience invited to read the information. Blogspot.com has easy setup for fresh blogs that also allow for sound and pictures.
Day Five: Scrapbooking is a billion-dollar industry. It will not cost you a billion dollars by any means; going to discount department stores, there are often aisles devoted entirely to the craft. Craft stores tend to carry heavy amounts of supplies, which range from albums, paper, markers, and stickers, to specialty glues, 3-D decorations, and paper punches and scissors designed especially for the art. Entire industries have risen during the past ten years over the supplies involved, including storage of the supplies.
Scrapbooking is also a popular way of recording events and family gatherings, giving the pictures taken at such events context with the additional labeling and thematic displays that are part of the typical scrapbook.
Scrapbooking can also be a fun activity to involve children, and something that many people are doing already. Digital scrapbooking is becoming an increasingly popular art form, and seems to be the way that the general industry is moving. It may be the journal that you are already keeping and never realized it!
Day Six: Recording information in long-hand, electronically, or with attached mementos, helps preserve this information for the next generation to understand who you are and what life was like back in 19XX or 20XX. Keeping one and sharing it allows family members a chance to get to know you, and helps establish patterns and examples for future generations in order to pass down the family heritage and give a sense of place and purpose to everyday living. Take this day to share your new creation with a family member.
Day Seven: Look for more source information on your family for your journal at WorldVitalRecords.com! Write about your search and document your reaction to finding new information.