You cherish life stories written by a grandparent or other ancestor, as they tell you so much more than the data on census, vital or other records can. You can read them,
however, only because these people took some time and wrote an account of their lives. Unfortunately, indications show that, among the general public, probably less than
one adult in ten writes even one page about his or her life. However, in our age of inexpensive paper and pens, tape and video-recorders, and computers, more and more people
are writing their life stories and there are fewer excuses for not doing so.
While some people write about themselves, others prefer to write life stories about selected relatives or whole families for several reasons, ranging from obligation to
recreation to curiosity. Some people have good collections of records and source materials, and decide they should write a history based on them. Others write for the
opposite reason - they have no source material, know nothing about an ancestor, and want to do research to find out about him or her. Sometimes a special occasion prompts
such a project - a major family reunion, a 50th wedding anniversary, an 80th birthday. Or, a person just finds he or she has extra time and chooses to spend that time
putting together a history of the family or a relative.
To write a family or personal history is one of life's most rewarding and challenging projects.
Unlike the genealogist, who is a finder and compiler of facts, this project requires that you put on the historian's hat and become not just a collector, but a teller
or narrator of the family story, a relative's biography, or of your own life. For guidance on writing a family or personal history, see
The Everything Family Tree Book or any of a number of excellent family or personal history resources.
The information contained on this page comes from a variety of sources, but relies heavily on The Everything Family Tree Book by William G. Hartley (Adams Media,
1998) and Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide to Family History & Genealogy by Jim & Terry Willard with Jane Wilson (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997).