Telling Stories: Family history is about collecting, sharing family stories

By Barry J. Ewell

Sharing family history is about gathering the personal stories that our families share between each other and from generation to generation. Here are some tips to actively seek out family stories and share your own through finding the opportunity to share them with others.

Collect and share family histories

  • When an ancestor does not have his or her history written, research and write their history for them.
  • If there are a number of ancestors whose histories need to be written, ask others in your family to select one or two that they would like to write.
  • Make copies for other family members. It is amazing how many of the family want to have these histories.

Tell stories
Find opportunities to tell stories about your life and the lives of your ancestors.

  • Integrate facts and dates with interesting information, humorous details and unusual facts about real people.
  • Make telling these stories a common occurrence around the dinner table, in the car or at bedtime.
  • Tell stories of ancestors who traveled across the ocean and trekked out to the Wild West, or who stayed in the East and started a whole town or built bridges.
  • Learn about your ancestors in the context of the world they lived in. Use resources like Wikipedia or to find information about a specific place and time.
  • Young children like to act out stories, so tell adventure stories of your ancestors in times of war, migration and immigration. Tell princess and knight stories about how your ancestors met and got married.
  • Teens like stories about friends, relationships and moral judgments. Teenagers can relate to and apply these situations in their lives now.
  • Tell stories of personal conflict, ethical decisions and moral choices.
  • Children who are more than 20 years old have an interest in your life experiences. They are interested in knowing about you. Who are you and why? What influence did those from generations past have in your life?