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Recording my family memories

(36 Posts)
NanKate Tue 11-Feb-14 20:24:11

I have just started writing my family history, just in case in years to come some family member is interested in knowing about their ancestors, as I am in mine.

I want to write about my early life in Birmingham just after the war. I was born in 1946.

Also I have started noting down all the funny things my almost 3 year old GS says each time we see him.

At present I have just got lots of computer notes as things jump into my head. One moment writing about the 1950s, the next last week ! My mother called this a grasshopper mind.

So what I am really getting round to is have any of you written your life story? Also do you have any tips on organising these notes ?

whitewave Tue 11-Feb-14 20:30:42

That is exactly what I want to do NanKate I was also born in 1946. I am also trying to compile a family ancestry which is fascinating - found a long lost grandfather who went AWOL when my mother was 3. He apparently jumped ship in 1921 in Canada have to research that further. But found that our family came from Howarth and were weavers. We were born and brought up in Cornwall. Good stuff though. What I would really like to do is to be able to record what living in those circumstances was like what people ate and did etc.

mollie Tue 11-Feb-14 20:44:17

I've studied my family history since 1985 so have lots of information in lots of paper and computer files so I've dabbled with writing it up for anyone interested. It's a work in progress but I have read a few 'how to' books and what you are doing is fine - the point is to write the memories down! Having read memoirs I have to say that chronological stories can be a bit boring but what about grouping memories and discoveries together as themes? You could compare your own experiences with those that you've unearthed related to great aunt gussie or 3xggrandmother on your father's side? That way you compare the past with the more recent history (yours) so that your readers don't have to slog through three hundred years of he was born, married and died etc. etc. Just an idea...

Good luck!

penguinpaperback Tue 11-Feb-14 21:28:25

I have started to compile a book for my grandchildren. It's part family tree, their Mummy's side, I have parts of my family tree, one branch back to the 1700's to write down, with pictures of the family and then I want to write my story, husband's story, their Mummy's childhood. I bought a lovely album with plastic sleeves, inserts and photograph friendly adhesive from Hobbycraft.
Hope you all enjoy the process as much as I have so far. And I agree write all down, make some rough notes you can write up properly when ready.

penguinpaperback Tue 11-Feb-14 21:35:34

Just thought I'd add in case anyone would be interested there are various memory books on sites like Amazon. You go through the book and it has headings such as 'school days,' that you fill in as you go. Would not suit everyone, I haven't used them but they could be useful if you have a dreadful memory and find the prompts useful.

margaretm74 Tue 11-Feb-14 22:25:38

I have done a lot of research on various sites but would like to pull it all together in an interesting way together with some stories about us and stories I have found out about our ancestors. Have done DH's side as well so it is a daunting task which I keep putting off. Keep it fairly simple I think, but keep all the documents/censuses separately for anyone who may be interested.

I have tried to organise different branches of the family in different files and in chronological order so far. I know who they all are, because I did all the research they are in my head, but it is difficult to make it clear and easy for someone else to follow.

Any suggestions re layout, setting out family trees etc would be gratefully received. Doesn't sound very helpful for you though, NanKate. Perhaps someone else has completed theirs.

Mamie Wed 12-Feb-14 06:23:47

I have done this for my grandchildren. I spent months researching on Ancestry taking all branches of mine and OH's family back to the early nineteenth century (it is difficult before the first census in 1841). Then I wrote separate chapters about us, our parents and our grandparents. I included what I knew of earlier ancestors in the chapters on our grandparents. I called each chapter by their names, so Ann and David, Charles and Mary etc. I added scanned photos to each chapter. I wrote it for children aged roughly eleven (because I taught Year 6 for years and because it seemed right from a comprehension point of view). I wrote a foreword for them explaining the broad themes of where we came from in historical context.
They like it and I enjoyed doing it.

NanKate Wed 12-Feb-14 08:14:05

Thanks so much everyone for your suggestions. I like the write it down, sort it later approach.

I agree with Margaret it would be useful to know where to access a simple family tree template.

margaretm74 Wed 12-Feb-14 08:45:16

Some good ideas, and I think the story format is better than lists of families and their offspring.

TriciaF Wed 12-Feb-14 17:53:35

I haven't done it, but have helped one of my cousins (in Canada) who had her Golden Wedding anniversary last year. Her daughters made up a photo album and I sent some of the old photos that I have, going back to the 19th century. Being the oldest of my cousins still here I have the photo store.
This thread reminds me that I should create something too - at the moment fighting the thought of old age, always looking back not forward.

durhamjen Wed 12-Feb-14 23:19:47

Have you thought of using wordpress to do a family blog?

mrsmopp Wed 12-Feb-14 23:41:30

I'm writing my own family memories and trying to sort it all out coherently. Little memories come back to me and I jot them down in my notebook, then the hard part is fitting it into the main piece so it's not disjointed. Are you writing yours chronologically? I'm trying to think the best way to organise all these random memories.
I have researched my ancestry too and have lots of information but again I am a loss how to put it all together. Maybe a chapter for each surname? It's taking me ages. I want more than birth death and marriages I want to know what their lives were like, where they lived and worked, what they died of. Some were in workhouses - such hard lives compared to nowadays.
Perhaps I should hire a journalist?!

Tegan Thu 13-Feb-14 00:06:33

Mydaughter has managed to go back a long way with her fathers family, but seemed to hit a wall with mine, even though I thought I had a lot of information. But neither of my children seem interested in my family sad. I'm going to try to try find out more but there are very few family members left. NanKate; have you looked on the Ted Rudge website about Birmngham [mind you it only covers Winson Green and Hockley; but it's lovely to see all the old photos].

durhamjen Thu 13-Feb-14 00:36:53

Maybe, Tegan, people do not get interested until they are older.
I have two boxes of A4 folders, about 50 folders all with a different name on. That's mainly one branch of the family, my mother's mother's side.
They tended to have lots of kids back then.
The problem is that I find things out and then wish my mother could have known that.
If you use folders, Mrsmopp, and then put interesting facts on the front of each folder, you can then put them in date order, and organise a bit.

mrsmopp Thu 13-Feb-14 01:01:28

Must admit when I was younger I didn't take much notice when mum told me about family history. I remember thinking she went on about the past a bit too much. I became interested much later and of course it's too late now to ask her anything. But I have discovered so much now and fervently wish my parents were still here for me to share it with them. That's life!

NanKate Thu 13-Feb-14 07:12:53

Tegan thanks for the info on Ted Rudge ( new to me) I was born in Handsworth Wood so not too far from the Hockley area. Will check out the photos.

I am in same position as you Mrs Mopp lots of info but not sorted. As Eric Morecambe could have said ' I have got all the right information but not necessarily in the right order ! '. I too wish I had more/any family members to reminisce with.

Durhamjen what is Wordpress ?

I have found it really helpful having so many Gransnet members helping with this project - much appreciated.

PRINTMISS Thu 13-Feb-14 07:55:28

Why is it though, that all my best thoughts for 'writing something down' come in the middle of the night, when I am not inclined to get up and do that? At the moment a lot of my thoughts have been put down in a jumble, but at least they are there - I have written something which is just for our son, although he will never read it, but it has been good to put down my feelings on paper. There is also a very long writing which I hope my daughter will enjoy, it is full of little things which have happened specially during her lifetime, and also tells of my childhood. There is no ancestry there. Our son in law who is a lovely man, gave a little speach at our Diamond Wedding Anniversay, - he and my daughter had put their heads together, and he gave examples of all the stupid things which had happened when my daughter and her brother were young - it had everyone in fits of laughter - hopefully my writings will be the same.

Iam64 Thu 13-Feb-14 08:37:09

After my father died, we found notebooks which began "in 1984 *(that's me) asked me to write down my memories of our family history, so here it is". What a moment for the 3 daughters. Dad had a host of stories about his parents, and extended family members, which he'd entertained us with as we were growing up. He never mentioned that he was actually writing it all down, as I'd asked him to, and I never pestered as his health was beginning to fail.
It's even more special, because it's in his own handwriting, which was that lovely flowing, script that so many of his generation used. Towards the end, the writing reflects his growing frailty. We have developed a family tree, on dad's side, back to the mid 17th century. Mum's side is a mystery beyond the 1850's. I suspect it's something we become more interested in as we age. This thread has prompted me to continue dad's family history, thanks.

Tegan Thu 13-Feb-14 13:20:07
not sure if that will copy...

Tegan Thu 13-Feb-14 13:21:40

Gosh; didn't realise there was a Birmingham history forum as well; the site has grown so much I can't keep up with it. I keep meaning to order some of his books as well.

NanKate Thu 13-Feb-14 15:19:03

Thanks so much Tegan. I am going to put an hour aside and sit and read through this fabulous history of my hometown. smile flowers

durhamjen Thu 13-Feb-14 16:36:52
You can have a free blog on it and put what you want on it. Then any one else in your family who signs up to wordpress can look at your blog.

durhamjen Thu 13-Feb-14 16:37:07

goldengirl Thu 13-Feb-14 18:24:36

Ages ago I was asked to write about an old house I used to live in and have only just got around to it. I'm combining it with family memories in the form of an interview rather than a series of paragraphs which allows me to deviate from the 'question' from time to time. Once I get stuck in I really enjoy doing it as it gives me 'permission' to go on a furniture hunt on line to see if I can find the sort of furniture we used to have as a child. The trouble is I've got other projects on the go too so it's a real balancing act. Will I ever finish it I wonder?

durhamjen Thu 13-Feb-14 18:35:17

The guest house we had in York was called the Cornmill Lodge, but it was just a middle terrace house. In the winter, we did a lot of research on it, and discovered it actually was a house belonging to the Cornmill, or Peppermill which was behind it. The house behind belonged to a builder and it was quite rundown, but you could tell it was a mill. It was grade two listed and you could still see the curved wall of what used to be the mill itself. It looked like the mill that you can see when you go in to York on the train.
Our research went back to the 1600s, further back than our own family.
The mill owners owned all the land and built houses on to the lodge for the rest of the family, so that's why it ended up in the middle of a terrace.
Looking into the history of an individual house is quite fascinating, even if it's not your own family history. At least a house stays still.