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Writing memories for future generations
Old 03-28-2021, 09:33 AM   #1
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Writing memories for future generations

I’ve been thinking about writing a book about my life but, more importantly, the aim is to capture memories of my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents (fortunate to have had two of the latter in my life until I was 20), aunts, uncles, siblings. When doing genealogy, I often wish I had more information about what my ancestors’ lives were like, their personalities, what drove them to do what they did. Perhaps future generations in my family will also be curious, and I want to contribute my knowledge in written format. I enjoy writing and going down memory lane so this would be a fun hobby. Two of my grandparents were truly dear, special people, and it will feel gratifying to share more about my warm, close Italian family than their obituaries and census logs reveal. I have some good stories up my sleeve.

Anyone have ideas on how to best “publish” a book, booklet, or other format for this project? I’m not looking to produce a book for selling purposes, so I’m not sure “publish” is the appropriate word. This would be for my family members. I don’t have a clue how to format my content in book form – pointers to get me started in this direction would be appreciated. I looked in other threads and learned about Scrivener. Thanks.
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Old 03-28-2021, 10:15 AM   #2
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I used Blurb to do a cookbook for our kids several years ago. It was fine back then and they've upgraded their software a lot since then. We got both hardcopies and PDF versions.
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Old 03-28-2021, 10:19 AM   #3
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My aunt wrote a "book" about her life and I think that it is a terrific idea. I learned a lot from my mother's family in her writing. Hers is not "published" in a fancy book format, it's in a binder. But hey, her story is not over yet and she may need to add a few more sheets to the book. It seems like it should only be permanently bound when she passes away.

I started jotting down memories in a notebook to be used for my own book writing.
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Old 03-28-2021, 10:26 AM   #4
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I envy those of you who have such information. My mother used to deflect my questions about her early life and that of her parents with "Oh, we weren't allowed to ask our parents about that. They were very private people."
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Old 03-28-2021, 10:30 AM   #5
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I have been doing family research for many years. I have found family histories at local libraries genealogy sections that were written by family members and donated to the library. They were often handwritten or typed in binders.
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Old 03-28-2021, 11:46 AM   #6
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That’s a wonderful idea! Both my parents, as well as my grandparents passed early and I would have cherished something like this. I have been writing memory journals in a hard cover book (named something not so original like) “memories for my daughter”. I’ve been filling it out at certain milestones in their lives. I’m now regretting that I wrote it in cursive because their children will probably not be able to read it. That being said, I would highly recommend that you print or type your book, even though handwritten cursive is more personal and quaint. My kids’ generation can barely remember how to read cursive. Sadly, it will be a lost art.

We also have been putting newspapers/ Time magazines, etc in our walls when we are doing construction. We have an antique house and I love when we find old treasures while renovating. There will be an interesting time capsule from 2020 if anybody ever finds it!
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:49 PM   #7
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I used Blurb to do a cookbook for our kids several years ago. It was fine back then and they've upgraded their software a lot since then. We got both hardcopies and PDF versions.
This is so helpful. I took a look at the site and I'm impressed, it appears to be an easy process. Thank you.
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:54 PM   #8
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I am VERY thankful that I made many audio recordings of my Dad's many stories. Yes, I had heard them many times over, but since he is gone, I often go back and listen to them and they always bring joy and great memories back to my mind. All in all, I have about 30 hours of recordings. I wish I had done the same with my Mom, but by the time I thought of the idea, she had advanced dementia and those are days I would prefer to not relive. Thankfully, Dad told lots of stories that included Mom so I still have those.

DW and I have no offspring, so no one will give a crap about our stories when we are no longer of this earth.
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:59 PM   #9
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My aunt wrote a "book" about her life and I think that it is a terrific idea. I learned a lot from my mother's family in her writing. Hers is not "published" in a fancy book format, it's in a binder. But hey, her story is not over yet and she may need to add a few more sheets to the book. It seems like it should only be permanently bound when she passes away.

I appreciate your comment - your aunt's life isn't over so the book binding can wait. I hadn't thought about that, as obvious as it seems. Food for thought.

It's good to read words of encouragement from the posters who think this is a good idea. Thanks.
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Old 03-28-2021, 02:28 PM   #10
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I used Blurb to do a cookbook for our kids several years ago. It was fine back then and they've upgraded their software a lot since then. We got both hardcopies and PDF versions.
I'll second that recommendation on Blurb. I found out about them via a plug-in that's included in Lightroom (a photo editing/organizing application that ties in with Photoshop). We have used it to create several photo books that were very well received by family. A favorite was one I made just shooting photos of a day at Grandma's (DW's sister) watering flowers, and everything else in sight, including Grandma. "Oops!" One grandniece was two, the other five. They are now twelve and fifteen and that little booklet is treasured. They are not fast, and they are not the cheapest, but ten years later the book is still holding together with no sign of falling apart.
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Old 03-28-2021, 04:07 PM   #11
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It's an interesting idea.
I'd start with using Office or libreOffice and save it to PDF, as that format can be read via tablets, phones, etc.

I have a small ring binder book my Mom wrote and glued pictures into on a school trip to Scotland & UK in 1936.
Odd thing is we had planned a trip prior to Covid to many of the same places, and I only found the book after our trip was cancelled.
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Old 03-28-2021, 07:51 PM   #12
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I also think it's a fantastic idea. Rather than just who lived where, when, who they were related to and where they worked and went to church or what social groups they were involved in (just facts and figures), capture their (and our) thoughts and feelings.

I would not get hung up on the format. Just write it up in a word processor, save in pdf (as suggested below), and/or Open Doc Formats (link). Don't wait to "publish" it, send out a copy to friends/family each time you've made some progress. If you wait, and something happens to you, your friends/family may never see your work.

Treat as a living document, not something that has to be complete before it is shared.

You've inspired me, I want to do this now. It will be a way to put into words how important our friends and family are. Why wait for a eulogy to have these thoughts expressed?

-ERD50
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Old 03-28-2021, 08:11 PM   #13
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I am VERY thankful that I made many audio recordings of my Dad's many stories. Yes, I had heard them many times over, but since he is gone, I often go back and listen to them and they always bring joy and great memories back to my mind. All in all, I have about 30 hours of recordings. I wish I had done the same with my Mom, but by the time I thought of the idea, she had advanced dementia and those are days I would prefer to not relive. Thankfully, Dad told lots of stories that included Mom so I still have those.
+1

One of the GREAT things DW did was to interview my parents and her parents on audio tape. In fact I am currently transcribing the one she did with my parents almost 30 years ago. Though we sent copies out to our other family members, most have not listened to it. With the previous generation in our family, all immigrants or living abroad, almost gone, other family members are recognizing this and starting to do this.

It is important to preserve history, particular personal histories. Otherwise... well, I'll just conclude with "those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it" .
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Old 03-28-2021, 08:11 PM   #14
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At my mother's funeral in 2015 at the age of 102, my weird niece gave me a CD of an interview she had with both my parents some years previous. My dad died in 2003, so she had to do the interview some time before that.
Why she did not send me a copy all those years, I have no clue.
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Old 03-29-2021, 06:37 AM   #15
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It sounds like a valuable project for those those who are into genealogy. As ERD50 notes, fleshing out the facts and figures of your ancestors with with what they thought and how they felt would really bring the past to life. That said, I'm pretty sure that no one in the subsequent generations of my own family ever will care about my memories of life. I'm just the unusual uncle who left home and never went back, not someone particularly relevant to their lives. If we had children, it might be a different story.
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Old 03-29-2021, 06:39 AM   #16
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I love the ideas. We've done photo books which will occasionally be picked up and read, so I think that's a good format. But I have a cautionary tale.

My mother must have sensed her dementia coming on, and took to writing the story of her life. It was a massive undertaking, and she didn't really understand the technology, using her computer as a typewriter, printing off one page at a time. Some pages were lost.

But much of the writing was in and out of coherence. There are gems in there, but it's a struggle to read. I don't think any of us "kids" have read the whole thing.

I guess what I'm saying is, consider both media and marketing. What will people want to read about? I'm a big fan of the written word, but have come to the conclusion that most people want little more than pictures with captions. And today, with the YouTube generation and the industry "pivot to video," I'm not even sure that'll be true in the future.

BTW, we've had good luck with Shutterfly for making photo books. Sign up once and you'll get a lifetime supply of half-off coupons and such.
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Old 03-29-2021, 06:58 AM   #17
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I also think it's a fantastic idea. Rather than just who lived where, when, who they were related to and where they worked and went to church or what social groups they were involved in (just facts and figures), capture their (and our) thoughts and feelings.

I would not get hung up on the format. Just write it up in a word processor, save in pdf (as suggested below), and/or Open Doc Formats (link). Don't wait to "publish" it, send out a copy to friends/family each time you've made some progress. If you wait, and something happens to you, your friends/family may never see your work.

Treat as a living document, not something that has to be complete before it is shared.

You've inspired me, I want to do this now. It will be a way to put into words how important our friends and family are. Why wait for a eulogy to have these thoughts expressed?

-ERD50
Glad to have inspired you!
Yes, I like genealogy for the surprises and find it rewarding but it's a bit dry with just the facts. Good points regarding using a simple word processing program and sharing along the way; simple is good. Not to get too emotional about this, but when I think of my loved ones' memories dying with me, it breaks my heart a little ... so I am driven to do this.

Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:09 AM   #18
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I have been writing a history of my family's life based on an outline in the book "To Our Children's Children" about preserving family histories for generations to come. I would likely never try to get it published, but leave a digital copy for each of my children.
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:27 AM   #19
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That said, I'm pretty sure that no one in the subsequent generations of my own family ever will care about my memories of life. I'm just the unusual uncle who left home and never went back, not someone particularly relevant to their lives. If we had children, it might be a different story.
Obviously I don't know anything about you or your family but you may have more to offer than you think? Maybe not ... but like you, I don't have children, am the unusual aunt who left the state, moved 850 miles away ... and am hoping great-great nieces/nephews, cousins, etc., will want to read not only a little about me, but also my recollections of great-grandparents and what I know of their lives in Italy, how they adjusted to NJ life. I'm betting my knowledge will matter to someone. If not, ah well, it will be a pleasant endeavor.
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:36 AM   #20
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Obviously I don't know anything about you or your family but you may have more to offer than you think? Maybe not ... but like you, I don't have children, am the unusual aunt who left the state, moved 850 miles away ... and am hoping great-great nieces/nephews, cousins, etc., will want to read not only a little about me, but also my recollections of great-grandparents and what I know of their lives in Italy, how they adjusted to NJ life. I'm betting my knowledge will matter to someone. If not, ah well, it will be a pleasant endeavor.
Perhaps. I am the oldest of my generation and I have a very good memory of all the things my grandmother and my mother told me about the family. And I actually met my great-grandparents when I was young. Maybe they might care about that stuff some day.
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