A journalís place in family history can be very influential. I was thinking about my ancestorís who lived when a census or birth, marriage and death documents were not always legally required. I thought about records that were destroyed, such as the 1890 census, and all that valuable data was lost. I contemplated those families who were immigrants or migrant workers and never really lived long in one place for records to be solidly documented.
Similar things can happen to us even today. Acts of natures such as fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes can destroy court houses, homes, cemeteries and other places where genealogical records are kept - destroying our family's documents. What can we do to help keep our family records recorded for our descendants in the upcoming years?
It is so important for us to keep these things in mind when we write in our journals. We may not want to dedicate every writing toward recording historical events in our families, but choose a time and write things that could be beneficial to your descendants. I think at least once a month would be a good time to set aside for this; that would give you twelve times a year dedicated to recording your family information.
As you write in your journal during this special time, record family members, their births, marriages and deaths. Record all the places the family has lived and lists the dates of any moves. Always remember to list dates for any of these occurrences. Stories about your family are an important part of this writing. This may be the only place that the event was recorded! This would be similar to how our ancestors recorded information in the old family bibles.
Journals should be stored in a very safe place. While most of us tend to hide our journals because they are private to us, consider storing it in a safe place in case of severe weather or fires. It is important to preserve your memories and data for future generations. Another thought is who you would like to inherit your journal upon your death. We do not like to think that we may not always be here, but death is eventually going to happen to all of us. Some of us may live long lives, while others die young due to accidents or health issues. Keep a note in your journal who you would like your journal to go to should something happen to you. Write in this note how important and influential the information you share in your journal is for your descendants and family. Express to them how you would like it to be preserved and stored in a safe place and left in the family and not discarded or taken to the curb. If your family has no interest, or if you have no descendants to leave it to, you might consider donating it to a historical society.
The New Year is a great time to set goals. Consider setting a goal to start a journal that includes your family history. A great idea may be to share the family history portion of your journal with your children or relatives by making them copies updating them as you add to your journal. If you use an online journal, make sure you print the information and store safely. While floppy disks and CDís can make a convenient back-up system, the future generations may not use these currents methods of data storage. An old fashioned journal with a good pen is sometimes the best way.