NFHM Blog Challenge Week 3: History

August continues, and so does National Family History Month, and now I’m up to Week 3 of the Blog Challenge, and this week my topic is “history”.

But history is such a broad topic. Family history, social history, local history, ancient history, heirlooms  … oh the list goes on. What do I write about? Well it took a while to work it out, but for Week 3 I’ve chosen something that not enough people think about, and that is “Present History”.

As historians and researchers it’s natural that we focus on the past. Our parents, grandparents, great greats and so on. The further back the better. And there is nothing wrong with that at all.

But we also need to remember that “today is tomorrow’s history”, so we should be recording our OWN history. Now. While we can. Afterall you know your life better than anyone else right?

But HOW do you record your own history?
Most people will come up with an excuse along the lines of “my life isn’t interesting”, or “I can’t write” … or both. You don’t need to write a novel, you just need to record life as it happens along with your memories.

Some of my family are avid diary writers, and for that I am eternally grateful. Not only has it instilled the diary-writing ethic into me from a young age (and I “mostly” still do it), it means that my parents are diary writers, my grandparents too, my great aunts were, my great grandma was too, and even a great great grandma. We are fortunate that a number of these diaries have survived, and that we are able to “see” life as it was, through their words. When flowers were planted, who preached at church, who came to visit, who was unwell, what they bought or made, family celebrations, what the weather was like, when babies were born, or others died and so on.

A favourite entry from my great grandma’s diary is as follows …

“August 19th [1900] Mr W.J. Hannaford came over to dinner with JBR, had a good time, then Mr Hannaford went to school, and my beloved and I walked up the flat and all up round the peas, it was very sloppy.”

[Note: to put that in context, there had been a lot of rain in the previous days, hence the reference to the ‘sloppy’ paddock or vegie patch.]

I’m not saying that you all have to start writing a diary now, but if you do, good on you, your descendants will thank you for it. But what I am suggesting is to dedicate a little time each week to writing about your life.

But WHAT do I write about?
Anything and everything. There are oodles of suggestions, like those as part of the “Genealogy and the 52 Week Challenge“. So grab yourself a notebook and a pen, and you’re good to go.

If you want something a little more structured there are some really fabulous Q&A fill-in books. Created with a question written at the top of each page, the rest of the page is left blank for you to write your response. The questions in the Book of Myself and the Book of Us will make you think, as they are not just the standard ones – which make them really good. Pick and choose the questions you wish to answer – but I guarantee that much of what you record will be information your family would not have known about, and won’t unless it’s recorded:
The Book of Myself: A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions
The Book of Us: A Journal of Your Love Story in 150 Questions
Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy

So do yourself a favour, and do your descendants a favour, and record the present. Record YOUR own history. That is just as important, and it really is the best heirloom you can leave them.

2 Responses to “NFHM Blog Challenge Week 3: History”

  1. Pauleen says:

    A great idea for this week Alona. We are so busy hunting down ancestors’ stories that it’s easy to forget we will be ancestors one day too.

  2. Alex Daw says:

    Fabulous blog post Alona. Your posts always look so professional and have such thought put behind them. This post is particularly important. The question I want answered most by my ancestors is “How did you two meet? What brought you together?” Oh how I wish I could have those answers sometimes. Very important to record that kind of stuff.

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