Writing a family history can be an extensive process. In fact it can be overwhelming to think about writing the history of the entire family. You can start by writing your own family’s history. You can do this for your parents and brothers and sisters and then begin to work backward.
One of the best things to do is to gather the memories of everyone who is still alive in the family. If you are working on completing the history of a previous family you may want to ask family members who knew or remember to share the stories of that family as well. You can ask your brothers and sisters to write down their favorite memories or traditions of the family as a starting point. Getting other people’s viewpoints is a great way to bring the story to life.
Another way to find out information is to read old journals and diaries. Often you can learn about friends, daily events and other interesting things that can help you to flesh out your research. For example you may learn the name of the place that one of your ancestors worked at. This can allow you to further research the company and learn more about the quality of life that your family had.
Once you have a definite geographical location you can search old newspapers for stories that involved your family or the entire community to provide background information to set the family history against. For example it would be interesting to see how greatly the Great Depression impacted your family and the community. You may also learn of smaller events, triumphs or tragedies that help to bring your family history to life.
Another great thing to include in a family history are letters. Letters often show the feelings that family members had for each other as well as tell stories and share important events. When family moved far away from each other this was the only means of communication for many generations.
Photos are another great resource for family histories. Finding photos and including them in the chapters that talk about individuals can help people to put a face to the name and person that they are reading about. This can make the events and the person seem much more real.