7 non-traditional ways to record your family’s history

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Keeping your family history doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming. Try one of these alternatives if you're falling behind. (Photo courtesy LDS.org media library.)

Keeping your family history doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Try one of these alternatives if you’re falling behind. (Photo courtesy LDS.org media library)

Remember your Grandma’s “Book of Remembrance”? Or your father’s detailed, daily journal? Those are great ways for recording important events, but they’re by no means the only options available anymore. If writing for several minutes every night isn’t your style, try one of these creative ways for preserving your family’s story.

1. Photo books

Digital photos and several online resources make photo books a simple (and in many cases, affordable) alternative to physically assembled scrapbooks.

Photo books combine the advantages of a scrapbook (photos to accompany stories) without the mess. Many photo books also give the option of including text, so you can include captions for your photos and even entire journal entries as sidebars. However, depending on the size, quality and brand of your photo book, this option can be expensive. Limited space also means you may need to be selective with which photos you include.

2. Printed blogs

Family blogs emerged a few years ago as a great way to document family life with both words and photos, but electronic histories can be difficult to access (especially in an emergency) and, while unlikely, are subject to loss since they’re usually hosted on third-party servers.

But if blogging is your thing, you can find companies that print blogs into books that you can keep on your shelf no matter what happens to your online data. These blogs can become a family treasure of stories and photos collected and printed over time.

3. Instagram books

As great as blogs are, they can be time-consuming. Instagram, a social photo-sharing mobile app, was released in 2010 and gained popularity over the following months and years. The application provides an easy way to take, edit and share photos—and now, it also provides a simple way to compile your family history.

Like blog printers, companies have emerged that print all your Instagram photos into a bound book for you to keep. If you’re a faithful Instagrammer, get your photos printed to create a daily family history.

4. Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking became popular in Utah many years ago, but some people still enjoy the creativity involved in creating books of photographs, souvenirs and decorative decals.

Scrapbooks are generally more fun to look at than photos themselves, and those who create scrapbooks can put some of their own creativity and personality into the pages they create. This means of compiling family history doubles as a creative outlet and hobby, which is appealing to many people.

5. Video journal

Family history research doesn’t generally include delving into video records, mostly because video is still a relatively new technology. But recording important—and everyday—life events on film has many advantages over simply writing about or even photographing them.

Videos capture sights, sounds and surroundings exactly as they appeared at the moment. Video is also easily copied and shared, while printing multiple copies of books or photos can be more expensive and time consuming. The tricky thing is to keep the technology current—if your family history is on VHS, you may want to consider moving it to DVD.

6. Community journals

In this fun twist on a regular journal, every member of the family is invited to write in a community journal. Leave it on a coffee table or on the kitchen counter where everyone can see it often. Invite family members to write about their day, about a family vacation, about a sister’s baptism, about their favorite food—anything that comes to mind. While it may not result in a comprehensive family history, the preserved handwriting, thoughts and memories from many points of view will be a valuable addition to your family’s history.

7. Photo albums

If the idea of laying out visually appealing pages or writing lengthy descriptions of every life event is too overwhelming, consider keeping up on good, old-fashioned photo albums. It doesn’t take long to print your photos and put them in sleeves, especially if you do it often.

Whatever option you choose, the important thing is to stay up-to-date on your family’s records.”You should continue on in this important work of recording the things you do, the things you say, the things you think, to be in accordance with the instructions of the Lord,” said President Spencer W. Kimball in 1980. “Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available.”

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Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

2 Comments

  1. Gordon Taylor Reply

    You can use Legcy Familly Tree and Legacy Stories to digitize you Book of Remembrance.
    break to Bof R into events and add them one at a time. with doc, photos, audio, video and weblink to cloud media.

    The events can be shared with other family members just link a census record. Creat the event once and share it with all that were there.

    You can see a Video on the subject on YouTube – TFAPres > Boof of Remembrance.

    Gordon Taylor

  2. Richard Hale Reply

    Being in the digital video and photo business, I digitize everything from people’s movie film, slides, and audio to documents which include scrapbooks. I have two bits of advice:
    1. Digitize first before you do anything else.
    2. Identify who, what, when and where.
    For archive permanence consider storing your digital data on M-Discs from Milleniata with their 1000 year expected life span.
    Richard,
    Hale Video Services

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