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Telling your personal family history story

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 11 2014 5:00 a.m. MST

Sandra Crowley shared tips on writing and sharing your story now.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Sandra Crowley grew up hearing members of her family share stories about their lives. With the passing of time, however, stories that once were crystal clear began to fade.

“My only regret is I didn’t write them down at the time I was told,” Crowley said.

Crowley now teaches genealogists simple and effective ways to record their stories, preserving them for future generations.

“One of the things I particularly enjoy is hearing people tell their stories,” Crowley said. “Lots of these stories started with ‘I remember.’”

During her presentation at the recent RootsTech Conference, Crowley encouraged participants to start small and save their memories now. Challenging them to stay away from the “I’ll write it down someday" mindset, she described how stories could be told using books, websites, videos, blogs, lists, photos and other people.

According to Crowley, many things can be gained from passing on memories. She said they could connect generations, bestow a sense of identity, teach values and convey caring.

In a world where it is now so easy to record and remember, Crowley offered three tips for getting started:

1. Make time and begin writing: Choose a time of day when you know you can focus well, and just start jotting down thoughts and stories. It doesn’t need to be a final draft, but get the stories out of head while they are still fresh.

2. Find the tool that works best for you: It doesn’t need to be pencil and paper, and it doesn’t even need to be “writing.” Tip No. 1 is not limited to penned words — blog, film, speak or photograph your memories.

3. Participate in a group: You’ll be more likely to log memories if you are accountable to someone. Join a local family history group or set aside a regular time to read weekly memories with friends or family.

Although it may feel like a daunting task to record a lifetime worth of stories, Crowley said individuals can start just by taking small steps.

“Your life didn’t happen at once; it’s still going,” Crowley said. “So it doesn’t have to be remembered all at once.”

Email: kguderian@deseretnews.com

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