from the Editor, Chris King:
The following article was taken, with permission, from a fabulous FREE
downloadable book, The Family History Jumpstart Collection that
you may download by clicking HERE.
Michael Boyter shares a plethora of useful ideas and articles and gives
all of us permission to send this collection to friends, families and
all of you my readers. I was concerned because it is an exe
file, but it is OK. I would suggest zipping it if you plan to e-mail it
to others, because many programs will not let you download it (for example,
Outlook Express). Read on for a taste of the wonderful information that
Write What You Think and Believe. You're likely familiar with the saying, "Don't discuss religion or politics with others." That might be a good idea but not when you are talking about your journal. You wouldn't shy away from discussing such matters with your children today so why hold back your hard-earned wisdom, opinions and knowledge from your family's future generations? This is your chance to be, perhaps, more honest about what you believe in than you ever have. Don't miss your chance!
Write About and For Your Children. Your journal can easily become very self-centered. That's not bad, but don't miss the opportunity to keep a record of your children as they grow up. Include important dates like "first tooth " and "first step". Write about their teenage and adult years from your perspective. Your children will appreciate reading about themselves once they reach adulthood. Encouraging your children to keep a journal is highly recommended but nothing can substitute for your view on their early lives.
Write About the World Around You. Given a choice, would you prefer to read about history as lived by your great-grandparent or from a stale encyclopedia? Instead of reading a bland page or two about The Great Depression, an old family journal would reveal the struggles that your family went through and include how they survived and coped. Instead of generically learning of the invention of the automobile from a textbook, you could perhaps relive the thrill your relatives experienced as they took their first ride. All of this is possible when historical happenings are included in journals. If you are one of those who believes that "Well, yes the invention of the car was exciting but what have I to write today that can compare to that?"
Here are some things that I believe will be of huge interest to future generations. If you agree, write about them.
If you really think about it, you could make a huge list of historical happenings and tell of your thoughts and how they affected the family. For those days when you can't think of what to write or if you just want something different to write about, print out the news headlines from your favorite web portal such as Yahoo or CNN.com. Jot down your "take" on the day's happenings. You may even want to subscribe to free news services, such as the one provided by The New York Times, where the daily headlines are sent to your e-mail inbox.
It doesn't matter whether the news is about international things or Hollywood. If a particular news story doesn't interest you, simply write, "this doesn't interest me" then go on to the next headline. Even a no comment tells something about you. If you use journal software or a word processor to write your journal, you may even want to copy and paste parts of articles and news into your journal entry and write a little bit about your opinion of it. Is that article, for example, having a direct impact on the family? A headline about war may mean that a brother, sister or cousin may be heading for the war front! Or, the article you include may be a local light-hearted article about your winning entry at the county fair.
Be sure to Name Drop Like most, you associate this with someone who likes to show off or brag, but "name dropping" in your journal is very important. The type of name-dropping that I refer to here is that of extended family members. Do not forget to mention brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents etc. especially as they interact with you. For example, "Today I spoke on the phone with my brother Jeff". Maybe mention a little about what you spoke about and don't forget to occasionally mention his wife and kids and a little bit about them. His son is your nephew and what you write today may be the only bit of information that his descendants may know of him. Maybe you think that this is a little overboard but, to be sure, hundreds of indirectly related relatives will someday be thankful to you.
Include Family Stories and Traditions. Are there any enjoyable family stories and traditions that you wish to perpetuate and have carried on? Of course there are! So don't forget to include all of those stories in your journal. The treasured family stories that you grew up hearing just might be told for hundreds and hundreds of years to come, but only if you act now to preserve them. Get with other family members so that they can help you recall those that you don't remember.
A journal writers work is never done. There is always something else to write and endless stories to tell.
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