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Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Build a Legacy that Will Last for Generations

My Great Grandparents
Jude Valdez and Lizzie Allen
For as long as I remember, my life has been awash in stories of family.  I suppose that my family on my father's side has a bit more of a handle on its history than many. I have been told a number of times over the years that I am lucky that this is the case.  Gina's comment on this post made me think of this fact again.

So, how does this happen?  How does a group of people remember facts, stories, and personalities from one hundred years ago?

Three words:
Write.  It.  Down.

Those three words sum up the heart of it, really.  My father's uncle, Marion V. Allen, wrote quite a number of books on family history such as Snap: A special horse during early homesteading , Early Jackson Hole ,  Hoover Dam and Boulder City  , and many others.  We have a journal from one of the women in the family which chronicles their migration from Idaho to Wyoming.  Many other family members have written books, journals, newsletters, or other remembrances.

My Great-Great Grandfather, CJ Allen

The content that is written down doesn't have to be formal or detailed.  It certainly doesn't have to be published.  It doesn't even have to seem very important to the person recording it.  As I mentioned in the post linked above, I'm sure that my great-great grandmother didn't think twice about her snow-box refrigerator.  She was probably just doing what homesteaders in harsh winter climates did.  However, one hundred years later, we, as her descendants, find that anecdote precious.

The thing is, kids don't know that they care about their family history, until they are old enough to care.  By the time they are old enough to care, the older folks who could have told it to them are gone.  If it is on paper, people can access it after the writer is no longer accessible.

So, if you don't know how to begin, here's what you do:

Step One:
Get a sheet of paper.  Preferably in a spiral or other notebook, so it doesn't get lost.

Diary of a Young Girl, Ann Frank
Akira Kouchiyama, license

Step Two:
Write the date, and number one to five.

Step Three:
Choose one of the question sets below and briefly answer each question.

Set One:
1.  What is one thing you did today?
2.  Where did you do it?
3.  Why did you do it?
4.  How did you do it?
5.  Who was with you?

Set Two:
1.  What is one thing you see out your window?
2.  Where do you see it?
3.  Why did you choose it?
4.  How does it look?
5.  Who else can see it right this moment?

Flickr - boellstiftung - Notizbuch
By Heinrich Böll Stiftung from Berlin, Deutschland (Notizbuch)
[CC-BY-SA-2.0 (],
 via Wikimedia Commons

Set Three:
1.  What is one thing you believe?
2.  Where did you learn it?
3.  Why do you believe it?
4.  How do you apply it in your life?
5.  Who else believes it that is significant to you?

Set Four:
1.  What is one thing that you would like to do?
2.  Where would you like to do it?
3.  Why do you want to do it?
4.  How would you make it happen if you could?...or How will you make it happen if you can?
5.  Who would/ will you do it with?

Closeup of pencil graphite
By Juliancolton (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Set Five:
1.  What is one thing that happened when you were five (or three, or twelve, or 24, or...).
2.  Where were you?
3.  Why did it happen?
4.  How did it happen?
5.  Who was with you?

You get the idea.

Step Four:
Repeat every Sunday (or first day of the week, or first weekend of the month, or...)

Step Five:

You just sparked a legacy.

Pax Christi!

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1 comment:

  1. This is great! I can do this with my children. An easy way to get them started in journaling. Thank you so much!


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