“Personal History on Tape,” Ensign, Oct. 2001, 68
Writing your personal history can seem overwhelming. One imagines countless hours recalling past events and feelings and then laboring to write them for family and future posterity to read. The good news is there’s a simpler way. Here is an easy method that has worked for our family.
First, use a tape recorder to record your thoughts. To help you plan what to say, think of events from a few of the following categories: childhood, teenage years, mission, college, friends, dating and marriage, career, Church callings, raising a family, spiritual experiences, vacations, the golden years, and special talents and accomplishments. From each category, share two or three of your experiences. Remember, detail is not necessary, nor is recalling every event. Your family will be grateful that they have your voice on tape. As you relate your experiences, include stories from difficult times in your life and explain what you learned from them. Try to tell at least one event from each category.
Recording your personal history need not be time-consuming. By taking half an hour each week to record one or two stories, you can progress quickly. Your history can be simple and short. Don’t worry about how you speak; just say it in your own words. Think of how grateful you would be to have a tape recording of a great-great-grandfather sharing experiences from his life.
When you finish recording your experiences you can make copies of the tape or even have it copied to a compact disc. Of course, tapes deteriorate over time, and technology changes. If you would like your history to be written, you can transcribe the tapes or ask someone to do this for you. At this point, if you wish, you could edit your personal history and include more details or experiences. Prepare a title page and use the categories listed above as your table of contents. Don’t let spelling, grammar, and punctuation concerns keep you from typing your history.
Once everything is typed, insert photocopies of pictures of yourself, and make copies for family members. If you’d like to bind your finished work, you can do this at many photocopy stores. As an alternative, you could purchase folders or three-ring binders and assemble them yourself. To further personalize your history, sign and date each copy. You could then give your personal history as a gift for the holidays or other occasions.
By keeping it simple, you are more likely to record your personal history, instead of feeling overwhelmed and putting it off. And for years to come your family will cherish the memories you share.—Gail Ratliff Glende, Olive Knolls Ward, Bakersfield California Stake