Genealogy Prompt 5: Start a Family History Journal

Genealogy Prompt 5 - Start a Family History Journal - Start a family history journal to document your favorite stories about your ancestors lives -

Over time, even the most casual family history research can lead to more records and facts than you can recall. That means you risk forgetting about some of your favorite anecdotes. But there’s an easy solution, and it’s this week’s genealogy prompt: start a family history journal.

What is a Family History Journal?

There’s no single “right” way to journal your genealogy research and family stories. It largely depends on why you decide to use a journal in the first place.

For example:

  • You might want to preserve the most interesting stories you come across before they get lost in your larger genealogy research.
  • You could use a journal to document family lines and important facts for later reference (such as to write a book).
  • A journal could also be a good way to document your research process itself — resources you want to track down, places to visit, and brick walls you hit.

Your family history journal might be in a narrative form. Or it might be lists and random notes or thoughts. It’s entirely up to you.

Ultimately, your journal is about helping you research and remember your family’s story.


Why Have a Genealogy Journal?

A family history journal is a tool, and it can serve whatever needs you have for it. But, ultimately, it’s about helping you with your research and helping to preserve the stories you come across.

My family tree has thousands of ancestors in it, for example. And I’ve come across more than a few fascinating stories about my ancestors’ lives. But I could never remember all of them.

A journal is a place to highlight the things you want to remember, whether it’s those interesting stories or reminders of what you still need to do to solve your own family’s mysteries.

Does it Have to be an Actual Journal?

If a traditional paper-and-ink journal isn’t for you, you might prefer a digital option instead, like a blog.

Blogs started out as online journals, and they still work well for that. And don’t worry if you don’t want to make your family history blog public. With tools like WordPress you can create private blogs and decide whom to share them with, such as giving a password only to members of your family.

A perk of creating a digital journal or blog is that you can create backups. So losing the original isn’t the end of the world. They’re also easier to share. And you can easily attach digital copies of photographs or records other family members might be interested in seeing.

No matter what options you choose, and no matter how you choose to use them, family history journals can be a valuable and highly-personal way to document your family’s stories. They’re quick and inexpensive to set up. So why not start your own genealogy journal today?

Jenn is a professional writer and publisher, and the founder of Climb Your Family Tree.

She first became interested in genealogy as a teenager. Since that early start, she's spent 28 years putting her personal passion and professional research skills to use in exploring her own family history while assisting others in their genealogical journeys.

In addition to running Climb Your Family Tree, Jenn is a long-time PR, social media, and online marketing specialist and she's been a digital publisher / web developer for over 20 years. She owns a variety of web properties including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, Kiss My Biz, and NakedPR.

2 thoughts on “Genealogy Prompt 5: Start a Family History Journal”

  1. This is a great idea. I’m 56 years old, I started doing genealogy when I was 19 by helping my mom. Shortly after, I begun researching my dad’s side of the family. If I had started one back then, I wouldn’t have had to go back to the beginning so many times to research a specific item because I didn’t think it was associated with my family.

  2. Thanks for sharing Robbi. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go back to the beginning repeatedly. That’s never fun. But you make an excellent point. There’s no reason things we’re unsure about can’t go in a journal or scrapbook of sorts. Better to have that info filed away somewhere if we need it later, and we can always get rid of things after we’ve conclusively determined they’re not relevant.


Leave a Comment