Preserving personal and family history is an important aspect of our lives. The stories and experiences of our ancestors and loved ones are a treasure of knowledge and inspiration that we can enjoy now and pass down to future generations. What better inheritance than the knowledge from where you came?
One of the best ways to preserve these memories is by creating a book that documents your family’s history. In a previous post, we discussed using an oral history project to gather the stories in a book. Here, we’ll explore the benefits of preserving your personal or family history.
A Book Preserves Memories for Future Generations in a Tangible and Rich Format
Creating a book to preserve family history is an excellent way to ensure that memories are passed down from generation to generation. Memories are often lost as time passes, but a book is a permanent record that can be passed down through the ages. A book can preserve not only the stories of our ancestors but also the photographs, letters, and other memorabilia that help bring those stories to life.
As book publishers, we are indeed biased toward books. A book is knowledge that one can hold in their hands and then share with another person to turn pages, touch pictures, and make notes in the margins. A book of one’s family or even personal history is a tangible manifestation and testament to those people.
A Family History Book Helps Us Understand Our Ancestors
We can better understand our ancestors’ lives by researching and documenting our family’s history. We can learn about their challenges, decisions, and the events that shaped their lives. A book preserves these memories for future generations to read, appreciate, and view through the lens of their own lives. Our children and grandchildren can say, “Wow, great grandma crossed the plains in a covered wagon! And great-great-great grandpa shipwrecked on an island!” We gain a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices they made and the legacies they left behind.
At a certain in everyone’s life, they will ask, “Where do I come from? Who are my people? How did they live? What trials and tribulations did they overcome? And what adventures did they experience?” Many hunter-gatherer and indigenous societies have rich traditions of passing this information down through the generations using the spoken word. But for those of us living a western, fast-paced, and “modern” life, it is easy for these stories to get lost and forgotten between the generations.
Many clients will tell Reidhead and Company, “My story isn’t that important. Why would anyone would want to read it.” And we counter, “But it is important! Both now and in the future.” Foremost, we are talking about your and your family’s lives. That alone makes documenting them important. Further, future generations will find meaning and inspiration in those stories. They will keep the memories alive. They maintain those connections to you and their ancestors. These are essential to what it means to be a human.
A Family History Book Brings Families Closer Together
Creating a book to document our family’s history can be a collaborative effort that brings family members closer together. The required research, writing, and editing allow family members to work together and learn from one another. We’ve even seen neglected relationships begin to flower again as family members talk about the past but through the more neutral lens of a book. People can reconnect, gain perspective, and heal old wounds through these conversations.
Additionally, building a book together creates a shared sense of pride and accomplishment that can strengthen family bonds and create new memories. At Reidhead and Company, our family history book often leads to storytelling and fun conversations that four living generations connect with and bond over.
A Book Preserves Our Heritage
Finally, preserving our family’s history is also an excellent way to preserve our heritage. By documenting our family’s traditions and values, we ensure they are remembered and cherished over time.
What was great-grandma’s favorite campsite? What was her secret potato salad recipe from the old country? To the generation living these traditions, they may seem inconsequential or even taken for granted. But to future generations, these are places and foods to be honored. These simple things give meaning and add to the richness of life for the generations who inherit them.
Preserving our personal and family history through a book is a project everyone should consider. Creating a book to document our family’s history allows us to share memories with future generations, tell our family’s unique story, understand our ancestors, bring family members closer together, and preserve our heritage.