“Managing Memories,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 70–72
Those boxes of memories filled with pictures, letters, certificates, and souvenirs—what will you ever do with them? And what about the personal history you’ve been intending to write? Here is a simple way to combine your efforts and accomplish both tasks at the same time.
Gather all of your mementoes together. Sort through closets and drawers and put everything pertinent to your life into one set of well-labeled boxes. You could also sort materials into boxes for other family members at the same time.
Separate the items into two categories: those that can be placed in a book (programs, pictures, important letters, certificates, ribbons, and so on) and those that cannot.
Place the items that fit in a book in chronological order by using a large accordion file. Label each pocket for one or two years of your life, and begin inserting items accordingly. This eliminates placing stacks here and there that inevitably get disturbed, get in the way, or get all thrown back together after a while. If you use an accordion file placed in a large filing box, you can also put unfiled items at the back of the box to keep them together. Using this method, you can start and stop filing instantly, which is helpful if you have only small snatches of time.
Assemble your memories into books. Beginning with the first pocket of your file, put the items in order in a large three-ring notebook using acid-free plastic sheet protectors, photo mounting corners, or photo pocket pages. Continue through the accordion file until all items are in order in one or more notebooks.
Now “fill in” your life. The items in the notebooks will prompt memory upon memory. Write each remembered experience on a sheet of paper and place it before the corresponding picture page in your memory book. After all, who doesn’t prefer to read a book with pictures? Now the book of your life is illustrated with memorable, interesting items. Whenever other experiences come to mind, you can write them and insert them as well. This portion of the project can also be done in small segments of time until completed.
Another option is to record your experiences onto a cassette tape. They can then be transcribed into the book at a future time—and as an added bonus, your voice is preserved for your posterity.
Remember to label or tag with a date and description the items that don’t fit in your personal history books. If appropriate, simply make reference on the label to a portion of your personal history or vice versa. Keep these items in some safe “treasure box.”
The fun and success of the project should be enough to keep you going until completion. But on those occasions when discouragement does set in, just remember it’s worth it—for both you and your posterity.—Nancy Beazel, Lancaster, California