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Take a Walk Down Memory Lane

My great grandfather, great grandmother, grandmother, great great aunt, great aunts and great uncle taken in early 1900 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

My great grandfather, great grandmother, grandmother, great great aunt who was my great grandmother’s sister, great aunts and great uncle taken in early 1900

Family History Month is long past but what better time to work on a special genealogy project during the winter months? There’s time to organize papers and display old photos, or work on your own research during the dark days of winter. Here are some ideas.

Scanning, Displaying & Using Old Photographs

We all have old or antique photos stashed away, whether from our own childhood or from previous generations. I recently obtained my mother’s old photos and I just scanned them all. I am going to make a photobook of them all. Here are some ideas:

  • Scan that collection of old photographs, and choose some to display in a digital photo frame.
  • Write captions and identifying information on labels to put on the back of old photos. Then read Protect and Preserve Old Photographs to find out how to care for them.
  • Make a photobook and give to your grandchildren.

Start Writing Your Personal History

Letters and journals from ancestors are a great find, but your children and grandchildren would like to know about you, too. I recently began my memoir journey by writing about my life, starting from childhood and on into the present. I jotted down all the experiences, memories, details and feelings about my life and hope to continue to produce my memoir in book form.

  • Write about your best friend in high school.
  • Write about the first date with your spouse.
  • Write about how you got interested in genealogy.
  • Write what you were doing when you heard about the shooting of President John F. Kennedy.
  • Write about another memorable event in your life.
  • Ask your parents or grandparents the same questions and write their responses.

Make Family History Related Gifts

  • Make copies of a favorite ancestor’s photo, put in small, light frames, and give as Christmas tree ornaments.
  • Create a montage of ancestors’ photos, or photos of current family members, and give as a gift.
  • Write the story of one ancestor’s family and give to family members. If possible, include a photo of them or something related to them. Recently my younger cousin asked me about my uncle, he dad, who passed away early in his life. He also wanted to know about our grandparents, whom he had never known. In addition to my brother’s memories, which are few, I can give him my story about our grandparents to make it real for him.
  • Create a digital scrapbook page of an ancestor’s story, plus photos and excerpts from documents, and print as a gift. While my father was in Britain during WW2, my mother and father who were engaged before he left, sent photos back and forth. They both wrote love letters on the backs of the photos. I am going to include those inscriptions in the photobook.

Plan a Family Reunion

  • The younger generation in our family does not know the rest of our family descendants from our great grandparents. We are planning a spring reunion to get together, share family stories, look at old photos and have fun.
  • Create a Family Group on Facebook and find lost relative, little know facts, and with everyone’s input, plan a reunion or just simply stay in touch.

I’m on a phase in my life where my family’s past is of great importance to me. Knowing details of family events and life 100 years ago is of great interest to me. Perhaps it’s the same for you!

My Memoir – A Work in Progress

As you may already know, I have been working on my Memoir for several months now. First I got the theme – that I have ended up in a good place despite all the turmoil of my family life when I was young. Then I wrote down a list of all the good memories and the bad memories of my past. Next I elaborated on each memory and put them into life chapters. That was more or less free writing. Not a lot of consideration to voice and style, just getting the memories out. That process started off slowly but quickly I picked up momentum, my deeply buried thoughts coming up to the surface.

When that was done I was ready to intertwine my lovely China life together with my past. I have been putting parts of my letters into my memories, I’m about one quarter through my letters and realize I need a way to know what ideas have been covered so far and what hasn’t.

My computer is set up on my bamboo tea table and chairs, on my screened in patio/balcony, looking out over the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in the distance and this is where I get my inspiration to write each day.

Today I took another leap in my memoir. This is the chapter outline of the China part. The points within each chapter or page on the door is an interesting fact/idea/etc. about China that I want meshed into my memories to demonstrate the sheer difference between life before and after China. Now I can see at a glance what points have been covered and which haven’t, as I insert the excerpts in the book. By now checking off points as I go, this may help. May not. Will see….

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