Creating Personal and Family History
Ideas and Resources
Different Types of Record Keeping for the Different Times in Our Lives
• Children – Books of Remembrance, Diaries, Scrapbooks
• Youth/Teens – Journals, School assignments for autobiographies
• College Students, Young Adults, Newlyweds, Young Parents – Awards, Special Achievements, Moments to Remember,
Blessings and Callings, Wedding Albums, Baby Books, Certificates.
• All Ages – Photographs, letters, cassette/video recordings, spiritual experiences, collections of materials for future work,
genealogy charts and materials, life stories.
Resources at our Family History Center
• Scrapbooking our Heritage, 2003 Genealogy and Scrapbooking Conference, Weber State University (CFHC ref table)
Pg 17 – “Using CD Technology to Share Your Heritage”, by Jon and Loretta Shupe
Pg 19 – “Using Family History CD Software”, by Jefferson Shupe
• Genealogy Fundamentals, by Laureen R. Jaussi (CFHC ref table)
Chapter 38 – Writing a Personal History
Chapter 39 – Publishing a Family History
• Write your personal/family history
o PAF – After you’ve entered the names, event dates and places, PAF will create a narrative book about your
ancestors and/or descendants, including an index and photos. http://www.familysearch.org
o The Seasons of My Life – Autobiography & Family History Software Program. Uses your own word processor so
you don’t have to learn new software. Merely read the questions in one window and type your stories in another.
o My Story – constructed from your responses to each question, or prompt, located throughout the screens. This
autobiography will describe who you really are in your own words. ($24.90)
o Personal History Writer – A quick easy way to write your autobiography or the history of someone you care about.
With over 1100 prompts in 38 categories your entire life can literally flash before your eyes. ($29.95 or $34.90
w/shipping) For more information or to order online, go to http://www.phwriter.com/
o The Journal – Keeping a journal on your computer has never been easier or more convenient. The journal helps
you get organized, create daily, weekly, or “loose-leaf” entries, maintain easy access. If is flexible and personalized
to suit your style. (39.95) http://www.davidrm.com/thejournal/?AfID=15622
• Write your history and add multimedia
o My Life - A program that prompts you with simple, thought provoking questions and makes it possible to capture all
of your feelings, thoughts and memories, combining them with personal photographs, voice and video, then
organizes it for you to print, display on screen or create CD-ROM editions for family and friends.
o Easy HTML – a free program that helps you create web pages writing your own code. Create links to PAF/Legacy
created web pages, edit existing pages and design your own adding links to photos, histories, etc.
o PowerPoint Viewer (free) – If you have PowerPoint, you can create presentations to share with family on a CD.
Just download and include this free PowerPoint viewer and they won’t even need to have access to the expensive
PowerPoint program. http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=7C404E8E-5513-46C4-AA4F-
• Multimedia presentation
o Family History CD – A great way to share documents, pictures, audio/video clips, family trees, etc. with other
family members. (download free 15-day trial or purchase for $49.95) For more information go to:
o FlipAlbum - Digital photo album software that automatically organizes photos into realistic page-flipping albums..
($19.95 for standard version) For more information go to http://www.flipalbum.com
o The Scrapper - easily create an all-digital scrapbook with all the extras multimedia has to offer...pictures, audio,
videos, animated "sprites" and more! After completing your scrapbook you can store it on your hard drive, share it
on the Web, or create a CD with it’s own built-in viewer to display the scrapbook automatically.
March 2007 – Sheri Lynn Lemon 1
Logan Utah Regional Family History Center
o Family Times Digital Newsletter (for Windows)- Family Times is an amazing way to share your family newsletter
in ways never before possible! The interactive abilities of Family Times builds a newsletter full of excitement and
memories using voice, photos, animation, clipart, and sounds. Kids and adults alike will have fun creating with
Family Times. ($22.95 at Ancestry.com) http://shops.ancestry.com/product.asp?productid=1929
Good Web Sites:
• http://genealogy.about.com/cs/writing Links to writing, publishing and oral history.
• http://www.oz.net/~markhow/writing/scrap.htm “Using Technology to Frame the Past – Electronic Scrapbooking”
• http://www.webyfl.com/generic.html?pid=49 “The Gift of Heritage” article on ways to give your family heritage to others.
• http://www.cyndislist.com/writing.htm Links to many sites concerning Writing your Family’s History.
• http://www.cyndislist.com/oral.htm#Pubs Links to many sites concerning Oral History & Interviews
• http://www.cyndislist.com/scrapbooks.htm Links to many sites concerning Scrapbooking and Preserving your Heritage.
• http://www.rootsweb.com/~genepool/oralhist.htm List of oral history questions (good ideas for your own personal history also)
• http://www.jadire.com/products.htm Jayne’s Digital Reflections, helping you preserve those precious memories by making you
aware of what is available to help you.
• Preparing a Family History for Publication (5/01), free, Item #36023.
• Memory Grabber – downloadable life story workbook. It quickly downloads to your computer and arms you with a 150 page
“arsenal” of memory grabbing questions, topics, activities, games, web resources, lists-to-create and more. It will walk you
through, step by step, and show you how to get started by building a personal life timeline and conduct a family history interview
with parents, grandparents, etc. You can download the first 67 pages free for evaluation. Full cost is $17.00 and includes 3 other
great resources free. http://www.familyhistoryproducts.com/memorygrabber.html
• Once Upon a Lifetime – Take time to record the stories of your life. Includes thousands of questions to help you organize your
thoughts in a logical sequence and make the task of writing the stories of your life an enjoyable experience. You can order the
book, $14.95 (or computer version) online at http://storiesofyourlife.com/
• The Memory Triggering Book by Robert M. Wendlinger ($24.95) For more information and to order the book, go to
• More than Memories: The Complete Guide for Preserving Your Family History by Julie Stephani, $16.95
• More than Memories II: Beyond the Basics by Julie Stephani
• More than Memories III: Mastering the Techniques by Julie Stephani
• Scrapbook Storytelling by Joanna Campbell-Slan, $19.99
• Writing-Lifestories-and-Family-History Mailing List – to share ideas that have worked or not worked in writing histories.
Send a message to writing-lifestoreies-and-family-history-L@rootsweb.com with just the word “subscribe” in the message body.
• FamHistorians Mailing List – devoted to recording and preserving family histories, that will be of interest to scrapbookers
creating heritage albums and those writing family stories, past and present. Topics include preserving old photographs, journaling,
memory book products, scrapbooking tips and techniques appropriate for heritage albums, preserving genealogy research, etc.
Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with just the word “subscribe” in the body of the message.
• FamilyMemories Mailing List – for the discussion and sharing of information regarding the preservation of family memories
through stories, pictures, genealogy charts, scrapbooking and journaling. Send a message to fammemories-
email@example.com with just the word “subscribe” in the body of the message.
• Genealogy-Treasures mailing list – for anyone interested in discussing the preservation of documents, pictures, family
heirlooms and other treasures left to us by our ancestors, as well as sources and methods for dating old photos. Send a message to
genealogy-treasures-Lfirstname.lastname@example.org with just the word “subscribe” in the body of the message.
Activities to Share Family History with Family Members:
• PAF Ancestry and/or Descendancy Book Reports – In PAF select File, Print Reports, Books tab and choose either the
Ahnentafel (ancestry) or Modified Register (descendancy) report. It creates a narrative report of your family. You can also
choose to include photos, sources and an index. You might also include PAF scrapbook pages interspersed throughout the history.
To create a scrapbook page, from the main menu, select File, Print Reports, Scrapbook tab. Select the individual with photos
attached to his record, the type and color of boxes around the photos and how many on a page.
March 2007 – Sheri Lynn Lemon 2
Logan Utah Regional Family History Center
• Family Bingo – Create bingo cards using pictures of ancestors, family members, homes, etc. (Hint: You could use a computer
program such as Legacy, PAF, PrintShop, WordPerfect, etc. to help you create the cards using scanned photos). Create separate,
larger cards for each picture and include a brief description, event, funny experience, etc. to tell about as you display the picture
they are to find on their bingo card. M&M’s work great for markers!
• Coloring Book History – Select pictures from coloring books that depict events in your life (or that of an ancestor) then add a
brief description to the bottom of the page and assemble in chronological order.
• 4-Generation Card Game - Create a card for each person on each line on your pedigree chart. (8 for 1st person, 4 for each
parent, 2 for each grandparent and 1 for each great-grandparent) Include the person’s picture and some interesting facts about
him/her. The game is played like “Go Fish” trying to build a set of 4-generations (person, parent, grandparent, ggrandparent)
[Variation: Using just 1 card for each person, try to match the husband with his wife.]
• Concentration Matching Games – This is a great game for a grandparent’s birthday . Select photos depicting events throughout
his life. Copy and prepare 2 of each photo. Be sure to label them or tell the story behind the event as matches are made.
• Memory Book for Children – Oftentimes, adults will enjoy this as much, if not more, that the more traditional type histories that
take “too long” to read. Your Memory Book might include:
o Items found on Grandpa’s farm (grandma’s kitchen, etc). Use clip art pictures and ring the ones not usually found.
o Homes of relatives – use scanned images of relative’s homes. On opposite page have child draw their own home.
o Write a letter to an ancestor telling them all about yourself.
o Dot-to-dot – create a dot-to-dot puzzle of an ancestor’s home, favorite animal, temple, etc.
o Trail to Grandma’s house – game with various setbacks such as teased little sister, can’t go to grandma’s, miss 1
turn and triumphs such as weeded grandma’s garden, move ahead 2 spaces.
o Map – Using an age appropriate map, mark where various events in the ancestor’s life took place. The child could
determine the mileage between the various residences and how far the ancestor moved throughout their life.
o Pedigree chart – can you fill in the blanks.
o Word search or Crossword puzzle – with family names
o What items might you use for family history – using clip art pictures, have them circle the ones that don’t belong.
o Shade in the spaces with a dot. What do you find? – shaded portions reveal your ancestor’s favorite pet, toy, etc.
o Tell me when… - questions that the child can ask the family and record on cassette or video.
• Family Newsletter (Monthly, quarterly, annually) – Create an email newsletter to save on expense. Be sure to solicit ideas and
contributions from all family members. You could include sections for announcements, news, spotlight a family member and/or
ancestor, birthdays, anniversaries, simple family history puzzle or game, etc.
• Family Timeline - Help the children view their personal history in perspective by reconstructing their life using a timeline to
show the events most important to them. Write a brief note about the event and data it, then let them illustrate the notes. (roll
ends from the newspaper office or tractor-feed computer paper work great for this activity)
• Family History Jeopardy – using such categories as "Family Recipes", "School Days", "Pet Shop", "Ancestry", “Friends of the
Family”, “Inlaws or Outlaws”, “Totally Tacky Talents”, “Fear & Phobias”, “Family Vacations”, “Childhood Memories, etc. Play
two rounds, including "Double Jeopardy" and Final Jeopardy (the final answer could be "What we need to do to become an
eternal family...the question would be "be sealed in the temple and work together as a family to ensure we stay together.")
Include questions involving each member of the family. To play: Simply divide up into two groups. Flip a coin to determine
who goes first. Have a spokesperson for each group. The first group chooses their category and plays until they don't know the
answer to a question (remember...in jeopardy everything has to be in the form of a question). Once they stumble on a question, it
goes to the other team for the answer. Then that team answers questions until they miss a question and so forth. Keep track of
points. You might also want to place a small tape recorder out of site to capture all of the family stories!
• Who Wants to be an Eternal Family game - (like “Who wants to be a Millionaire”) using questions from the lives of your
ancestors. Fastest finger questions might include...."Put these grandchildren in order they were born, oldest to youngest", Place
these families in order of where they live from east to west” or "place these 'in-laws' in order that they married into the family",
etc. Use the "life-lines" phone a friend (a member of their team), ask the audience (poll entire team for answers) and 50/50. This
is a great way to "educate" your family about some of their ancestors. The best part is coming up with the multiple choice
answers...make it really challenging or really funny! Either way, you will spark memories and lively conversation. With any
question that involves a great story, stop the game and have the person who knew the story relate it so all will learn something
new. Be sure to incorporate questions that will involve everyone, so everyone feels apart of the game...even if it means just
listing someone as a multiple question choice (the grandkids liked seeing their names in print!). Sample questions (tailor to fit
your family): "What family pet stole peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from neighborhood kids school lunch bags?", "Who peed
up the doctor's sleeve when they were a baby?", "How many bones has Kim broken?", "What branch of the military did Grandpa
serve in?" "How did the hole get in the bathroom door?", "Where was grandma born?", etc.
• Printed Family Trees - Here's a quick and easy one. Most genealogical software programs have the capability to print out family
trees in a number of formats, and possibly different fonts and colors. Some will even allow you to include photographs of
individuals. Even if you don't have the software, downloadable pedigree charts can be printed and information handwritten.
Printed on fancy paper, (or even plain paper decorated with stamps, drawings, clip-art, etc.), these family trees can be framed and
March 2007 – Sheri Lynn Lemon 3
Logan Utah Regional Family History Center
given as heirloom gifts for families to treasure and hand down to future generations. Your genealogy software may print one you
like. For other examples, see:
o http://www.genealogyprinters.com/ Print individual, descendant or full family charts from your GEDCOM.
o http://www.olsonetc.com/index.htm Many custom styles to create a beautiful family treasure.
o http://family-trees.tripod.com/ Novelty family tree gift ideas.
o http://genealogy.about.com/cs/chartprinting/ Links to numerous companies that print different kinds of Family Tree
charts for you to get ideas.
• Memory Book – Create a family memory album for a new daughter/son-in-law. Start with just the grandparents so as not to
overwhelm them. Add a family tree with pictures. You could add an individual page for each aunt and uncle still living, with little
bits of information about each one. Then end the book with photos of the bride and groom together, pictures of his/her parents
and a family tree with him/her in it. Also include a blank page for them to add whatever they want
• Memory Jar – Decorate a glass jar, then fill it with memories of your family, ancestors, etc. Print each memory on a separate
colored slip of paper and sign it. The person receiving the jar should pick one memory out each day, read it, then jot down one of
his own memories and add to the jar. Periodically pass the jar on to a new family member. (perhaps on birthdays)
• Family Heritage Cookbook - You might ask all your family members for new and old recipes, especially recipes that their
grandparents and parents might have used, then compile a cookbook for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren down the line.
• Family History Slide Show – A computerized family slide show displayed on a laptop, video or DVD player makes a unique
centerpiece for family gatherings. The majority of genealogy programs now include slide show features as do many image-
editing and photo management programs. You might try Microsoft’s PowerPoint if you want to add text, etc.
• Web Page/CD – PAF can generate a web page to display your ancestry or you can be creative and design your own web page
with links to individual PAF generated lines, histories, photos, documents, etc. You can upload these web pages to internet , or to
make it more private, copy it to CD and share with family members. Anyone who has a computer with windows will have
Internet Explorer that will be able to read the web page on the CD.
• Christmas Tree Ornaments – Decorate your Christmas tree with frames containing photos depicting events in the lives of your
ancestors, objects depicting their talents and interests, etc.
• Calendars – PAF will print calendar pages with your family’s birth and anniversary dates listed. It will also print scrapbook
pages. Combine the two, using the scrapbook page for the picture page of someone who has a birthday or anniversary that month.
• Personalized Cards – Design your own birthday, anniversary, or Christmas cards and include photos, stories, etc. of your
experiences with the person to whom you’re sending it.
• Maps – Maps appeal to children. You may want to map the birthplaces of ancestors, immigration patterns, residences of the
family over the generations, where family missionaries or servicemen have served, etc.
• Picture Quilts - For about $4, Kinko’s will make an 11X17 iron-on transfer sheet out of anything you can tape to the page.
Crowd as many items on the page as you can, as you will be cutting them apart before arranging and ironing on your quilt top.
They are remarkably high quality. You could use favorite family photos, ancestral photos, documents such as birth, marriage,
death certificates, etc. Use a fabric pen to label under each photo and add signatures if desired. Another idea is to have each
family member create their own quilt square depicting a memory of a particular ancestor or family member.
• Board games - On a poster board draw a road. Around the 'road' draw things associated with different countries. For instance, if
your ancestor was Scottish and participated in jousting matches, draw a man jousting on a horse and shrink three or four of the
images. Color them different colors, reinforce them with cardstock and laminate them. These are the game to move to the finish
line. At the end, write 'victory' and divide the road into about 30 sections. Leave some of the sections blank, but on others put
phrases like 'knocked off your horse', 'go back to start' and 'go back three spaces.' All around the road draw castles, knights,
dragons and a map of Scotland. This can be done for any place. A pioneer-themed game could have covered wagons for game
pieces. The board could have bushes, Indians, snakes and things to do with the prairie for decoration. You may want to combine
several countries where the children's ancestors may have lived.
• Collection of Poetry – Could be an individual or family album. Collect the poetry they wrote to really portray their personality.
• Ancestor of the Month – Create a display of photos, histories, memorabilia, etc. to introduce an ancestor to your family.
• Name that Picture - Hold contests to identify photos of early ancestors.
• Re-enact events – Select an important event in your family’s history and re-enact it to make it more meaningful to your children.
• Family Crest or Flag - Create your own family crest or flag and display it for special family gatherings.
• Ancestral Birthday Party – Celebrate an ancestor’s birthday. Share stories, facts, hobbies, etc. of that ancestor. Serve food he
may have enjoyed. Play games of the period, etc.
• Family Traditions – Research your ancestor’s family traditions and consider adding one or more to your family traditions.
• Gifts of Memories – Ask all the friends and family of the individual to send a picture (preferably one of them with the person)
representing what they remember best about the person, and to tell the picture's story). The memory could be funny, inspirational
or just reminiscent of time spent together. Put the letters, photos, cards, printed e-mails, etc. in a memory book and give it to the
person on their birthday. You can create a similar memory book for any older relative or an ancestor."
• Rainy Day Picnic - Have a picnic indoors on a plastic tablecloth on the floor. Prepare simple native snacks from the lives of a
particular ancestor and share stories about the family.
March 2007 – Sheri Lynn Lemon 4
Logan Utah Regional Family History Center