What were the main turning points? Do you remember? Here are some ways to collect those memories. Retrospect means looking back.
Images (photos, video)
Visuals excite our brain as we try to identify what we see and match the image to personal memories. Have you looked at old family photographs and wondered who those people were? It takes a minute or two to identify who, when, where and what (event) on all visuals before we file them away. Identify online with a caption or tag and group items together (the maternal or paternal side of the family, distant relatives, family or school reunions, family trips).
|Vancouver, Burrard Inlet seals sunning, by DG Hudson|
To get started, sort photos and gather paper collectibles in a storage container. Discard or repack what you can't use, but retain a sample of concert programs, tickets, posters, sports books, travel maps, special cards or letters. A flat-bed scanner is useful for enlarging the images taken with small format or older cameras.
Record Known Facts
-Where the family name originates (both sides)
-Newspaper clipping of an event which helps establish time period
-Family tree known connections (use a template or record free hand)
-Heirlooms or special family treasures; include history, if available
Family get-togethers or summer visits with relatives are the ideal time to collect those memories by using your camera or getting someone else to do it for you. Include a beloved t-shirt of your fave band, autographs, old school records or class photos. Don't forget, this will be a cumulative project and you're the curator.
|Mother-in-law c.1940s - DG Hudson Collection|
Break the task into smaller chunks
Transcribing family stories can be done in small bits; determine main ideas and what you want to include. Match photos to event. Be creative in your display. Make collages. The final format can be print or digital, but consider whether you need multiple copies for any interested siblings or only one for your family.
No gender specific skills required
Men and women can do this. Quality of presentation is subjective. I made a birthday photo album for BIL (brother-in-law) of his childhood and teen photos. BIL was surprised and pleased seeing photos he had forgotten about. Keeping track of memorabilia isn't always high on men's 'what to do' lists, but at least make a minimal effort. You may be glad you did. Blogger Arlee Bird recently wrote a post on storing some of these memory collectibles.
Memory quilts (sewing skills required)
The design of a memory quilt should reflect the style of the person who will receive it. What does that person like? Do they have a hobby or interest that suggests a theme? You can design-your-own or purchase a pre-cut pattern at sewing stores. I design my own layout and mix and match patterns with a related colour or theme. To personalize, add applique to some squares and use needlework for the reverse of the quilt. A very basic outline of steps for crafting a memory quilt follows.
Crafting a Memory Quilt
- Make a list of elements to be included on memory side of quilt, calculate size required and purchase amount of fabric needed. Play with design of front and back on paper first. Use fabric and colour to enhance design.
- Cut squares. I used a pattern for 11in x 11in, (metric=28cm x 28cm). The size of the squares will determine how many are needed for a finished quilt. Photograph design layout after basic squares cut, this can be used as a reference. One side consists of 11 x 11 squares; the reverse side is a solid piece providing a background for personalization.
- Stitch vertical rows of squares, then join the rows together to complete the large inner square section of the front. Applique and machine stitching detail are added at this stage.
- Design the needlework needed for the back memory part of the quilt. (freehand or stencils). Complete needlework stitching. Tiny sew-on charms, heritage lace, buttons or antique doilies can be used as embellishment.
- Sandwich the front and back together, overlapping back to front to form the edge binding. Add basic stitches by machine or hand to secure the front, back and fiberfill layer. Voila! (That's the short story.)
- Handwashing the quilt is recommended particularly if some items are vintage.
Destroyed or overused Baby books or albums
They can be salvaged. Take apart at the binding, carefully cutting the pages along the spine with a sharp knife. Each page can be inserted into the top opening clear pocket pages of a scrapbook. Other small collectibles can be kept in these as well ( a lock of baby hair, a baby bracelet, etc.)
It's Your Life - Prove it! Ideas and Information to get you started from an earlier post of mine.
Check out Arlee Bird's blog, Wrote by Rote for more ideas about memoirs and taking care of family history.