- The gravestones of any cemetery in the world contain a name, birth date, a dash, and then a death date. That little dash between the birth and death date seems so small and insignificant, but our whole history lies within it.
- A birth certificate not only
shows that you were born, but it’s a written record which will prove
that you lived. Unless you write and express your feelings, no one else
will really know your true feelings.
- Unrecorded Histories. It only takes one generation to lose the essence of who you were and what you felt and thought. Memories fade, and 100 years from now, people will only know you were born. A birth certificate only shows that you were born. A written record or journal will show how you lived. Unless you record your true feelings, generations that follow will never know them.
- Leave a history for posterity. We all hope that something will outlive us and linger awhile after we are gone. The things of this world will soon be forgotten and turn to dust. Your possessions may end up in an antique store and purchased by people who never knew you; but, stories, memories, and knowledge can last forever. The present will always become the past for someone else.
- If you think you have nothing to write about, think
again! Much of what is worth remembering is simple—not dramatic or
spectacular—like the skills learned, friends, teachers, family
activities, vacations, trials, joys, spiritual experiences, sadness and
heartache, and memories of raising children.
- Begin with one of the two following suggestions:
1) Use a blank piece of paper.
At the top of a piece of paper write today’s date. For the next month
or so, every time you remember a significant event that had an impact in
your life, write a date and a one line sentence summary of that event.
After a month you will have an outline of your entire life and some of
the choicest things that took place. Then, once a week, sit down and
take one of those events and write a paragraph or a page about it. At
the end of one year you will have a mini-history of your life.
2) Copy the list below,
leaving considerable room between each of the bulleted items to record
your answers. (If writing is difficult for you, talk into a tape
recorder and have someone else transcribe it.) When events come to
your mind, decide whether to make a “note” about them, and move on, or
to stop and write a lengthy description.
- Your Name. Write your name at the top of the page. Tell how you got your name, what it means, your nicknames, if you were named after someone, etc.
- Your Birth.
Write everything you know about where you were born: the name of the
hospital or the address of the place where you were born. Add any
details about the weather, the date, time of day, and the day of the
- Your Childhood.
Health, diseases, accidents, trips, associations with your brothers and
sisters, unusual happenings, neighbors, visitors in your home, visits
to grandparents and relatives, religion in your home, financial
condition of parents, and pictures at different ages. Describe your
earliest memory. Write stories about events in your childhood.
- Parents and Siblings.
List the names, birthplaces, and birth dates of your parents, brothers,
and sisters. Medical histories, family characteristics, and family
tendencies. Describe them, and tell something you admire about each
- Your Home.
Places and dates of residence. Write about items in your home that have
a special meaning to you. Home chores. Fun and funny situations.
Describe special visitors in your homes.
- Heirlooms. Describe furniture or other heirlooms handed down by your ancestors.
- Your Grandparents. Write about your grandparents, describing where they lived, and memories of them.
Write about your favorite or most memorable relatives, unusual
happenings, family reunions and gatherings, and family honors. Your
family’s national origin, including the first relative to come to this
- School Days.
Name the schools you attended, including college. First day of school,
pictures, teachers, courses studied, special activities, associates,
honors and achievements, positions held in school, socials, report
cards, humorous situations, who or what influenced you to take certain
courses, or do things you might not otherwise have done. Who was your
favorite teacher? Best and worst school subjects?
- Your Friends.
Memorable occasions with friends—both young and old, who have
influenced your life. Pictures from their early age to the present.
Contributions or influence of certain friends to your growth and outlook
- Other People. Who has influenced you? What famous person would you like to know? Who has done something you found inspirational? Who do you miss the most?
- Organizations you joined. List the organizations you joined as a child—Girl/Boy Scouts, Church groups, school groups.
- Family Traditions. Holidays, foods, reunions, birthdays, graduations, special family songs, gifts, entertainment, and stories.
- Family Vacations and Outings. Your best Christmas, summer vacation, summer jobs, family outing, special celebrations or favorite holiday. Where were you born? What countries have you lived in? What was your favorite house? Where do you like to go with your family?
- Write about yourself, as you see yourself. Describe your physical features, what makes you cry, things you love and what you dislike. What matters most to you?
- Talents and Interests. Hobbies, recreation, dramatic and musical activity, reading habits, travels, etc. What would you do if you had a spare month to fill?
- Favorite Things.
Describe your favorite food and dessert, color, city, clothes, stuffed animal,
friends, music group, sport, poems, magazines, books and writers, hobby, relative,
family activity, movie, TV show, time of the year, scripture, the most interesting thing you have learned from a book...
- Religious Beliefs.
List important church dates (baptism and other ordinances), church
assignments, and teachers you liked. Write about church activity and
sacred events, answers to prayers, your testimony of God,
faith-promoting experiences of yourself or your family, memorable
experiences and leaders.
- Your Courtship and Marriage.
List the date, location, and other significant details of your
marriage. Describe meeting your spouse, special dates, how the proposal
occurred, marriage plans, the wedding, receptions, gifts, honeymoon,
and meeting your in-laws. What influenced you most in your choice of a
- Married Life.
Describe your new home, starting housekeeping, adjustments, growing
love, making ends meet, joys and sorrows, and your in-laws.
- Your Children. List
your children and their birth dates, places of birth, health of the
mother before and after their birth, characteristics, habits, smart
sayings and doings, growing up, accomplishments, schooling, marriage,
vocations, sicknesses, accidents, and operations. Who is the oldest,
youngest, tallest, shortest, and funniest?
- Important Changes in Your Family. Tell of events such as a child’s marriage, deaths, divorces, moves, and jobs.
- Local or World Events. Tell about events that affected the family.
- Adult Life.
Describe how you have spent your adult life—at work, at home, etc. Tell
about your greatest accomplishments, your plans and hopes for the
- Things you did which no one ever knew about (until now).
- Your Vocation. Training for a job, promotions, companies you worked for, salaries, associates, achievements, and owning your own business. What was your first job? What did you learn from co-workers? Where would you like to work?
- Your Civic and Political Activities. Positions held, services rendered, clubs, political preferences. PTA, volunteer work, military service.
- Your funniest experience, and your most embarrassing time.
- Add photographs to your history. (Use actual photographs mounted on archival-quality paper, or copies from a photo copies.)
- Your Encouragement and Counsel to your Posterity.
Make charity, unity, and love for one another their priority; carry on
family traditions and activities; their obligations to their country,
church and family; your suggestions on honesty, humility, health,
diligence, perseverance, thrift, loyalty, kindness, reverence, the Bible
and other religious and edifying books; service to their fellowmen;
your belief in God, etc.
- Never underestimate the effect you may have on unborn generations
in helping them through the trials and tribulations of life by the
words of advice you leave your children, grandchildren, etc. If you
would like them to live upright, honest lives, give them the benefit of
your experiences and your writings.
- Update Annually. At the beginning of each year, write a one-page annual update of the highlights of the past year.
- Set aside time to add more to your life history - possibly in one-hour increments, elaborating on any of the topics in your history outline.
Suggestions from Life Stories
1. Start with timeline – record every important date you can remember.
2. Focus on writing imperfect but heartfelt short stories.
3. Identify who is who in your life.
4. Make lists about various aspects of your life
5. Gather what you have already written, such as letters and school papers.
6. Talk to family and friends to refresh your memory of events in your life.
7. Jot down ideas as they come to you in a small notebook or index card you carry with you.
8. Schedule a regular time to write. (Life Stories - Mormon Times, Jun 4, 2011, p 7)