How special would it be to read a journal your grandmother wrote? 

Maybe you’re lucky enough to have such a prized possession, but most people don’t. Life is hectic, fast-paced, and hard, and it always has been. Journaling personal experiences doesn’t make the cut on a to-do list when you’re just trying to survive, so it makes sense why so few exist. 

We can’t change the past, but we can change the future.

Someday, you might be someone’s, parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent. Maybe you already are. While you might not have been one of the lucky few to have an ancestor who kept a record of their life, you could be that ancestor for someone in the future. 

Me and my grandfather in 2003.

You don’t need to look that far down your future family tree to find people who might love hearing your personal stories. I would love to read anything my Dad writes about his experiences, past and present (Dad, if you’re reading this, grab a pen and paper!). 

It can be easy to overlook yourself and your experiences when you’re doing genealogy research. Family historians study the past and those who came before them. But once in a while, consider that your life is a genealogical goldmine of stories. 

Someday, someone will be researching your life. Your ancestors will wonder what your life was like, who you were, and what your parents were like. You have the chance to preserve those stories and experiences right now. Whatever you write, videotape, or voice record, anything you create about your life will be an invaluable gift to whoever comes after you that they’ll be forever grateful for!

Jack Palmer has done genealogy research since he was ten years old and loves writing about it for family, friends, and anybody else who might enjoy research stories and advice. He graduated from Duke University in May 2023, majoring in History and Psychology, and is the author of Helen & Frank: A Biography, a biography about his great-grandparents.

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